This Sunday is the next CicLAvia, in which a route through the city is closed off to motor vehicular traffic and open only to the wide variety of self-propellers: cyclists, walkers, joggers, skateboarders, skaters, and the like.

I’m looking forward to this one in particular because of a couple firsts. The first first is that the course is brand new, spanning between downtown and the beach mostly via Venice Boulevard (click the graphic below for the bigger picture).


The second first is that contrary to every one of the past five CicLAvias I’ve participated in, I actually don’t have the day to myself and instead have someplace to be. Fortunately that place is down South Bay way and thus I’m relieved that I can avoid missing my first CicLAvia by incorporating it part of my overall roundabout outbound commute.

Specifically, I have to be in Hawthorne by 1 p.m. ready to participate in an spcaLA-offered beginner dog training class. So my plan is to roll downtown around 9 a.m., and just get meandering west until I arrive at Venice and then make my way around the marina and across Ballona Creek onto the bike path that winds its way alongside the sand out of Dockweiler State Beach. From there I’ll bail inland and back onto the streets via Imperial Highway, working my way onward via a staircase of eastbound/southbound/eastbound/southbound streets until I arrive at my destination, like so:


Depending how I’m feeling about pedaling the entire distance home afterward, I may head up Crenshaw to Leimert Park and roll back home across the basin, or I’ll just ride the rails back into downtown by intersecting with a Green Line train to the Blue Line (perhaps working in a stop at Simon Rodia’s Watts Towers since I’ll be in that area).

With the scheduled physical training component of my public safety training coming to a close, it’s time to open up on my own and be my own drill instructor (minus the yelling). So I set out this morning to do a three-station set of simple and effective exercises: jump rope (100 reps), sit-ups (25 reps) and push-ups (15 reps), followed by 60 seconds of recovery before doing it again.

Times 10. It took about 30 minutes and succeeded in getting my pulse rate elevated while working my lower, mid and upper body:

A half-hour after I started this first set, I’dcranked out 1,000 jump rope reps, 250 sit-ups and 150 push-ups… just the kind of warm-up I needed to for  2.5-mile jog.

I swear I’m beginning to like this stuff.

In my ongoing public safety training, physical fitness and ability is an important component. We are nearing the 36th of 36 scheduled PT  (Physical Training) classes during Module 1 and yesterday we had our final assessment known as the PFQ (Physical Fitness Quotient) test comprised of:

  • Sit-ups (in one minute)
  • 300-meter sprint
  • Push-ups (in one minute)
  • 1.5 mile run

It is a replica of the test administered to LAPD cadets. But it is not to be confused with the other physical abilities test that I’ve done and written about, known as the Work Standard Test Battery (WSTB). That one involves the 99-yard obstacle course, solid and chainlink fence climbs/sprints, 165-pound dummy drag, and a 500-yard run — and must be passed in order to graduate. The PFQ is simply a benchmark with no grade attached… just personal significance.

Though I ended Module 2 of my training in November with a 12:19 time in the 1.5-mile run, the five-week layoff during the holidays coupled with nagging aggravation to my sciatic nerve brought on by an increase during that period in mountainbiking on a poorly positioned bike seat saw me finish the 1.5-mile run in  first PFQ in Module 1 in January a full 40 seconds slower at 12:59.

The second PFQ done about six weeks later saw me shave about 35 seconds off that time to 12:24.

My goal yesterday was not only to eclipse my previous 12:19 best but to finally pushpushpush myself and come in before 12 minutes, something I haven’t done since high school.

I’m happy to report that I succeeded in turning the dream of me being able to sustain a sub-two-minute lap throughout the entire distance into reality.

My results are as follows with improvements from the previous PFQ in February (results from that in parentheses):

  • Sit-ups: 52 (48)
  • 300-meter sprint: 0:52 (0:56)
  • Push-ups: 24 (22)
  • 1.5-mile run: 11:51 (12:24)

As a way-back point of reference, my 1.5-mile test done during the first PFQ at the beginning of Module 2 last August was completed in 14:12. So, in the eight-month arc from beginning to end, my overall time in that event has improved by 2:21.

Not too shabby for a granddaddy.


After getting my scores last month for the “Work Standard Test Battery” (WSTB), comprised of five timed and scored physical events,  I proudly wrote about the progress I’d made between the 17 months that transpired from when I first took it.

Event August 26, 2011 January 26, 2013
99-Yard Obstacle Course 19.4 seconds (179 points) 18.3 seconds (193 points)
Solid Fence Climb/Sprint 13.6 seconds (87 points) 7.3 seconds (177 points)
Chain Link Fence Climb/Sprint 8.2 seconds (75 points) 7.7 seconds (80 points)
Body Drag 5.2 seconds (55 points) 4.5 seconds (57 points)
500-Yard Run 129 seconds (25 points) 103 seconds (33 points)

Well, me and my fellow classmates did it all again on March 9 as something of a mid-term, and I’m even more proud to report I bettered my January scores, like so:

Event January 26, 2013
March 9, 2013
99-Yard Obstacle Course 18.3 seconds (193 points) 17.6 seconds (202 points)
Solid Fence Climb/Sprint 7.3 seconds (177 points) 6.9 seconds (183 points)
Chain Link Fence Climb/Sprint 7.7 seconds (80 points) 7.1 seconds (87 points)
Body Drag 4.5 seconds (57 points) 3.9 seconds (58 points)
500-Yard Run 103 seconds (33 points) 99 seconds (35 points)

We do it all again next month, and that WSTB will differ in that these first two were basically practice runs. That one will be our Final. When we do it in April it’ll be pass and continue or fail and get kicked out of the program. Frankly, I’m confident I’ll pass (hell I had more than the required 384 total points to pass when I first did it in August 2011). My goal instead is to beat my March 9 times.

With the running I’ve been doing these past few months, I’ve been negligent in allowing the resultant lactic acid buildup to overstay its welcome in my upper thighs. I’ve tried stretches and a large but ungainly foam tube to work it out, unsuccessfully. But not anymore. With a simple rolling pin and some clenched teeth I decided it was high time to exorcise that demon juice squattin’ in my quads. And for lack of a legitimate topic I figured I’d share it with you. Oh, but it hurts so good…

Back last September, I was apparently the only one in the world who DIDN’T know of the existence of resistance bands and how they can aid those such as myself who are pull-up challenged (meaning with my long-ass arms, weak upperbody strength and my 200-plus pound bulk I could barely do one).

Since then, I’ve made some progress, but not much. I’ve gotten pretty good at doing assisted pull-ups but if I’m lucky I’m only able to do two without the bands (and the second one isn’t pretty).

So now I’ve turned it up a notch. Instead of occasionally cranking out one, two or three sets of 10, I’ve raised the bar so to speak and now do 10 sets daily of what’s shown in this clip: 10 pull-ups with the last one followed by a 10-second hold at the top. Then two more and a five-second hold. Basically I do this once every hour from the time I get up until I have to leave in the afternoon. With this extra dedication, determination and effort (which will eventually be doubled to twice an hour) I’m looking forward to finally weaning myself off the resistance band and getting to the point where I can count off five of the suckers completely on my own.

Equipment used:
Iron Gym
Workoutz Heavy Duty Resistance Band

Today’s topic is the WSTB — the Work Sample Test Battery — the standard physical agility test that anyone and everyone must pass in order to graduate from the public safety training program in which I’m currently enrolled. A non-pass/fail benchmark version was administered last Saturday to show each of us in the class where we each were at individually. Not coincidentally it’s the same exact test I took 17 months ago when applying to the institution.

The WSTB is comprised of five events, each one timed:

  • 99-Yard Obstacle Course
  • 6-Foot Solid Fence Climb (finished with 25-yard run)
  • 6-Foot Chain Link Fence Climb (finished with 25-yard run)
  • Body Drag (165-pound dummy dragged 32 feet)
  • 500-Yard Run

Readers of this blog with exceptional memories might remember that I wrote about my “triumph” at getting over the solid fence after I took that first test back in August 2011. The rest of you can refresh yourself with that post here, if you wish.

We were given our results from Saturday’s test last night and because I’m a comparison geek and very proud of the across-the-board improvements I’ve made between the two administrations of the WSTB separated by almost 1.5 years, I thought I’d lay down my results side by side:

 Event  August 26, 2011  January 26, 2013
 99-Yard Obstacle Course  19.4 seconds (179 points)  18.3 seconds (193 points)
 Solid Fence Climb  13.6 seconds (87 points)  7.3 seconds (177 points)
 Chain Link Fence Climb  8.2 seconds (75 points)  7.7 seconds (80 points)
 Body Drag  5.2 seconds (55 points)  4.5 seconds (57 points)
 500-Yard Run  129 seconds (25 points)  103 seconds (33 points)

Points are awarded based on an individual’s finishing time in each event, with those points obtained from the obstacle course and the two fence climbs comprising the largest percentage. Minimum passing score is 384 points, and if you happen to be blessed with super human speed and strength, you can actually get all those points from the obstacle course and the solid fence climb. For the rest of us mere mortals, the chain link fence and body drag and 500-yard run are needed to fill in the shortfall.

On August 26, 2011, I rumbled and bumbled (rather humbled) across the finish line with a total of 421 points. On January 26, 2013, I comparatively cruised to a score of 540. Though the differences in times are minimal in several cases, I’m hugely pleased to have shaved a full second off the obstacle course and 26 seconds in the run. But clearly the greatest gain both in time and points came from the success I had in getting over the solid fence.

But we’re just getting started. This initial test was basically a status update. We do it all over with a mid-term in March and then a final in April (and “final” is the operative word: pass and continue on, fail and be dismissed entirely from the program). Rather than rest on what I was able to achieve this past weekend, you can bet in the time between now and then I’ll be taking opportunities that will allow me to increase my individual and overall scores.

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