Three Amigos

Three AmigosIt’s a given that on the weekends when we let the cats out you can usually find one — maybe two — crashed comfortably on the lounge in the backyard, but rare is it that three show up (from left: Pepper, Pumpkin and Jiggy). Click image to biggify the cuteness.

A Choice To Make

At last year’s L.A. Marathon in March I completed the 22.7-mile bike tour event then walked the 26.2-mile marathon itself — with absolutely no training, but a heck of a bunch of resolve.

A phonecam photo set of marathon pix can be found here.

The bike tour is a piece of cake by itself. I’ve been doing it since its inception in 1995 and regularly cruise through it in no more than 75 minutes. The marathon last year was another matter. In perhaps worse shape than I’m in now I set out down Figueroa with the bazillion other participants and actually jogged the first mile. Felt pretty good actually, kind of like getting swept up in the current of a river. Somewhere near Staples Center I put the Whoa! to the Now! and walked the rest of the way. By Mile No. 10 in the Crenshaw District I was in agony. Muscle fatigue and cramps, blisters and chafing (I’ll say no more) just kept on getting worse, but I kept on going. The worst parts were near the end when the city’d begun opening up streets and allowing traffic to cross the route. There were several times where I had to come to a complete stop and wait, and it was the starting back up from a dead stop that was absolute agony.

As long as I could keep moving one foot in front of the other, I was fine. Even if it was at a “speed” of 1 mph. I just kept repeating “every step taken is one step closer to the finish” or something like that.

Eventually I crossed the finish line in 7:43 and change. And for as bad as I felt I was surprised that I’d finished it four minutes faster than the last time I’d done both the bike tour and marathon together (the latter with my friend Cybele) in 2003. It was jogging that first mile that had given me the edge, but man did I feel a whole lot worse the second time (the difference was in large part because Cybele and I actually devoted some time to training in 2003).

Cybele had been planning to do the marathon last year with me just as we’d done in ’03 (our goal was a 6:15 finish), but she had to bow out when she couldn’t devote the proper amount of time to getting conditioned for it (smart girl). I guess I stayed in it in part because I’m a cheap bastard and I’d already paid the outlandish entry fee (like $75!) and dammit I was going to get my money’s worth… even if it landed me in the hospital. But the larger motivation was to just do it as the ad slogan goes. Even with no training. None. And I did it. I moved my largess on a bike 23 miles and then walked it another 26. Crazy.

But now it’s decision time regarding this year’s editions of the L.A. Marathon and Acura Bike tour. Given last year’s results I know I can do it if I wanted to, but I’m no masochist. So brutalizing myself just for the sake of brutalizing myself doesn’t make much sense.

My ultimate goals are to first walk the course in six hours and then come back the next year and run it in four hours. Even if I cracked the whip and started a whole bunch of paced-walking to get me into better condition, I doubt if two months is enough time to get me set to cross that finish line as the race clock ticks 06:00:00. Soooooo, I’m gonna forego the marathon this time around, aim for 2007 and just do the bike tour — on The Phoenix, of course.

It’s just the right thing to do. I’m going to miss doing the marathon this year. It’s a great event and I love being involved, but the wiser thing to do is get involved only when I’m in the position and condition to enjoy it all the way through. So that means hello to my 12th-consecutive bike tour and seeyanextyear to what will be my fourth time as a marathon finisher.

No Fluking Way!

In honor of my friend Cybele’s birthday (which I forgot AGAIN until she reminded me on the way back home), I accompanied her down to Redondo Beach and ventured forth for a three-hour whale watching tour that was spectacular. We tailed a lone Pacific gray and were rewarded with multiple surfacings, then wandered around an aloof group of Risso’s dolphins before heading in, and finding much to our surprise three — perhaps four — more grays going the other way. Extraordinary!

Here’s a sampling of thumbnails. There’s a set of larger-sized images from the outing that can be found here.

Whale Watching Risso's Dolphin Sea Lions

What A Trip!

So yes, a touch of caution over it being Friday the 13th and the urgings of my inner lazy demon to just blow it off were both thrown to the wind and I rolled over with my helmetcam rig to participate in last night’s Midnight Ridazz group ride.

HelmetCam

I’ve never put much stock on the unluckiness of Friday the 13th specifically or superstitions in general and an enjoyable and uneventful night ride with what I’d guess was approximately 500 other riders traveling the 15-mile trek from Echo Park to downtown then up along the L.A. River into Atwater Village bore out my believe that a specific day and month is no more cursed than any other. Crap can happen every day of the year.

The ride itself was much different from the first one. The turnout was perhaps as much as twice as big as last month’s and it was longer, which was very cool, but it didn’t have the energy and organization of the last one. I think part of it was that last month we literally took over an urban core, looping so exhuberantly around Hollywood over Sunset and Hollywood boulevards. Last night’s ride, while coming through downtown spent its bulk rolling along a more rural Riverside Drive before taking it entirely off-street to the L.A. River bikeway up into the heart of a sleepy Atwater Village. It was still a blast, just on another less envervating level.

I was definitely pleased with the performance of my helmetcam mount and it certainly generated a lot of curiosity and interest. The other good news is that the battery lasted for the full 90-minutes available on the DV tape. I had my doubts, but it just kept on going.

Now it’s just the matter of time involved to go through the footage and pull out some video clips worth posting. Stay tuned.

UPDATE: A small set of photos from the ride are here.