Dec 16, 2010

End of the Semester, Return to Running, and New Year Plans

Finally, the end of the 2010 school year has come. On Tuesday I partook in the last of 9 finals of the semester concluding the first part of the second year. I have 2 more academic semesters and 24 weeks of clinical affiliations to complete before I take my national board exam for physical therapy in summer of '12.  I cannot wait to experience that day. In the meantime I have some fun things in the works for the next 5 weeks.
I first want to mention that I made a successful return to running on November 23 after my ITB injury. I have to credit swimming with playing a major role in keeping me sane and probably helping with any residual inflammation at the lateral aspect of the knee.  As much as it felt terrible a lot of the time not to be able to run, or at least hike, it has invited me to explore different forms of activity. I already mentioned swimming; some of the benefits I noticed included the ability for the body to dynamically stretch and move within a larger range of motion many of the joints plainly just don't move in with running.  Think about the dynamic motions the arms, torso, neck have to experience to successfully perform the act of swimming.  I also came away with the added benefit of breath control.  I noticed that I could breath deeper with minimal resistance; meaning that breathing against a form of resistance (ie water) enhances our bodies ability to increase its tidal volume upon inhalation.  Tidal volume is simply the volume of air exhaled and inhaled during each breath. Typically in a normal adult it's 500mL but with respiratory resistance activities that can increase to 700mL per breath with the same amount of effort.  We can imagine how that translates to running, especially on steeper ascending trails where you're constantly in some type of oxygen debt.  I've also started performing yoga 1-2x week at Power Yoga for flexibility/strength, breath control, and focus.  It allows me to experience movement and breath in a different way with the added benefit of wellness and prevention.
Also to note, I've moved away from heel-lifted shoes when walking and running. For walking I stumbled upon where I bought myself a make-it-yourself huaraches kit ($20) that I now use everyday for walking and such. It's 4mm vibram and nylon rope. Way better than Five Finger shoes because I feel the ground much more and my toes aren't enclosed in anything. Perfect trail sandals for sure too.  For running I have transitioned to spikeless cross-country shoes where there is no heel-to-toe height difference and excess material making it paltry 8oz (Size 11.5; compare that to 14oz for my LaSportiva Firebaldes). I believe this has made a difference in my stride, how I carry my feet, and how I land. The draw back is that there is pretty much no support and I have had to be more aware on rocky trails and relatively no cushion you can feel the rocks underneath especially if you land wrong. We'll see how it works in the long run or when running a long distance. (PS: This morning I did a 15 mile trail run (6K feet change) at Malibu Creek State Park where the conditions were rain, mud, wind, and cold.  Shoes were perfect. I can say that they are my permanent trail running shoes.)

In my spare time I've written a list of trail runs I would like to compete in with the culmination a 100 miler in early summer. After not getting into Western States and Miwok via lotteries this is what I have come up with:
-Calico Trail Run 50km (1/16/10)
-PCTR Montana D'Oro 50km (2/13/11)
-PCTR Malibu Creek 50km (3/6/11)or Old Goat 50 mile (3/26/11)
-PCTR Sycamore Canyon 50km (4/23/11)
-Pacific Crest Trail 50 mile (5/14/11) or Bishop High Sierra 100k/50 mile (5/21/11)
-San Diego 100mile (6/11/11) or Tahoe Rim 100mile (7/16/11)
-Bulldog 50km (8/22/11)
Adidas X-Country Shoes
   I would have liked to run in the Angeles Crest 100 but I think I'll be backpacking the 450 mile Grand Traversee des Alps during that time.  So the training continues and I have my first longer trail run Friday at Malibu Creek State Park since Oct 15. Wow, it's been a while.
To welcome in the new year of 2011 my friend Just Paul and I will be celebrating in the Grand Canyon for 5 days December 28-Jan1. We plan on setting up a base camp at Phantom Ranch and going out everyday for off-trail day hikes that include the attempted circumnavigation of Zoraester Temple and scaling Cheops Pyramid. We'll see what happens as plans have the ability to change rapidly in the backcountry, depending on conditions.

Nov 27, 2010

The Science of Running with Shoes vs Barefoot(esque)

I've come across this pretty interesting blog post that sites many research articles I have come across in my time in grad school.  It talks about research on running shoes and some barefoot running kinematics.  I would like to reiterate, just as this article does, that running barefoot in not a panacea to injuries.  There is a complex relationship that includes the knees, hips, pelvis, and the trunk therefore one aspect of the body (foot) does not necessarily resolve potential problems with the others. I will elaborate more on that in the next blog posts.  Also, research is always in a process of evolution so keep that in mind when reading.  I don't typically site other people's work but I thought it did a very good job of explaining the seemingly topic-du-jour in the running world and it included peer reviewed articles to back it up.  So click on this link and see if this makes sense to you. 

Oct 25, 2010

Iliotibial Band Syndrome

As I mentioned in my race report, I have come down with IT Band Syndrome (ITBS) outside my right knee.  I had the exact same episode in March 2009 on my left side so it's an all too familiar feeling.  I haven't run in 7 days because of it causing a wave of running depression and realization of how important it is for my day-to-day living.  Since I am in grad school for PT I wanted to share some facts and experience with ITBS should you ever have the unpleasant experience of having to manage it.  Some anatomy for starters: the ITB is a thickening of the connective tissue surrounding your thigh.  All muscles are sheathed in usually thin connective tissue called fascia but in the leg is thickens quite dramatically on the lateral aspect of the thigh and the two main muscles that connect to it are the tensor fascia lata (TFL) and gluteus maximus (GM).  The TFL is located just lateral to your anterior superior iliac spine (ASIS) which are these bony prominences of the pelvis on your front side. You can easily palpate them on yourself: you have one on each side.  If you move your fingers 3cm to the outside of both ASIS and 1cm down you'll feel the small muscle which is the TFL.  Now run your hand along the outside of your thigh until you get to your knee; the whole thing is the ITB and it's insertion points in the area are vast: lateral patellar retinaculum, fibular head, Gerdy's Tubercle (tibia), biceps femoris (lateral hamstrings), and vastus lateralis (quadriceps).  The TFL does several things: flexes your knee when it's <20 degrees, flexes and internally rotates your hip.  When you flex your knee at about 20-30 degrees (from a standing position) a portion of the ITB that was infront of the lateral femoral condyle of your knee glides across it setting itself up behind the condyle.  To allow this smooth repetitive transition there is an underlying bursa, a fluid filled sack lying between the bone and ITB allowing an almost frictionless glide.  The school of thought behind why the ITB is even there is to keep the vast musculature of the thigh "in check".  One of the events that happens to the ITB if not properly managed is adhesion formation to the underlying muscles and superficial skin that doesn't allow correct biomechanical properties to take place.  This may lead to more pressure on that femoral condyle thus disrupting that smooth gliding occurring everytime you flex your knee.  Friction starts to occur damaging the tissue and bringing in inflammatory agents to the area.  The more swelling there is the more pressure and less room there is for the ITB to function. Therefore, the more you flex your knee while in this phase, more inflammation sets in, irritating surrounding nerves and activating pain stimuli. You can see how this would become a vicious cycle if left unchecked. In March 2009 this happened to me during a trail race and I couldn't bend my knee 5 degrees without creating severe pain.  There are other biomechanical reasons why the ITB can cause a lot of problems: the latest research has been pointing to the hip musculature to control femoral rotation (weak hip extensors/stabilizers: gluteus medius), shortened hip flexors (which causes the TFL to be overused), quadriceps, adductors, and hamstrings.  So how to manage this type of functional injury (I am not addressing structural dysfucntions such as leg length discrepancy, tibial varus, etc) :

1) decrease inflammation: as long as there are inflammatory properties in the area you cannot begin the healing process. Use ice religiously and anti-inflammatory medications (ask your physician)
2) use a foam roller to make sure the underlying fascia is seperate from the superficial skin and muscle. One may use skin rolling technique to determine areas of adhesions.
3) gluteus medius strengthening, hip external rotation strengthening
4) lengthen shortened musculature of hip and knee (to restore biomechanics), especially adductors on affected side because of possible reciprocal inhibition of glut medius if restricted and overused as hip stabilizers
5) deep friction mobilization at tender site (to break up scar tissue and decrease pain)
6) avoid running on banked surfaces (ie side of road)
7) cross training/rest

See how things react after certain self treatments. Not everyone is the same so things that might work for one person isn't necessarily going to be as effective for another.

So these past 9 non-running days I have been doing most of the above while taking both steroidal/non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (Prednisone and Meloxicam).  It has been improving but truthfully it's been quite depressing not running. These moments certainly make me aware that I need to practice what I preach.  Flexibility and strength: how do I expect to have a healthy body overtime when I don't keep it well maintained? The fact is it constantly needs attention and care, especially with the amount of work it goes through.  I also am doing a research paper on barefoot running vs. running shoes in relation to runner's injuries and rehabilitation. I know this is a new field so the research might be a little on the thin side but I am quite interested in what I find. I'll keep the blog updated when I delve into the research. Now I am obviously not a PT yet but if you have any musculoskeletal related questions I can certainly answer them the best I can using my current knowledge and experience. Just leave a comment.

Oct 17, 2010


Now that I have recounted the story about my experience of the race in the previous post I think it's a good idea to look back on the lessons learned from this new experience.  I fully understand now that the longer the race the more magnified the small things are.  The main thing I come away with is staying on top hydration and diet.  I started the race holding myself accountable of how many gels I would consume per hour and water intake, but as the day wore on that seemed to be less of the case.  I'm not sure if I was just taking it for granted or because I lost track but lesson #1 is: stay on top of hydration/dietary/electrolytes. It can make a world of difference in how one feels mentally and physically.  Lesson #2: I need to start taking care of my body a bit more in terms of gaining and maintaining strength and flexibility.  Going out running is great but doing some strength and flexibility is going to be very important in maintaining longevity.  It will also indirectly help with running performance.  This last point is not so much a lesson than observation: experiencing new things is a key principle to living.  As much as I was nervous about running the distance I was very curious and interested on how I would react beyond my zone of comfort.  New experiences enrich life and allows the opportunity to observe things in a different light because sometimes I find myself feeling quite stagnant in terms of fresh new thoughts or perspective.  

Rock'n River 50

Waiting for the start
Some delirious night about a month and a half ago I decided I wanted to try to qualify for Western States 100 next June and I needed a 50 mile race that needed to be completed in less than 11 hours. I browsed and what I found was the Rock'n River 50: a 50 miler in Auburn, CA just outside of Sacramento which coincidentally is where the Western States finish line is. It's the reverse route of the classic American River 50 that is run in April.  My training since my Bulldog 50km in August had me running 28 days per month, including one longer trail run of 2.5-3hrs every week.  The day finally arrived and in all honesty I had been quite nervous about the race.  

 I have never walked, run, or hiked 50 miles in one day before and frankly I wasn't sure if I would be able to make it.  I am usually pretty wiped after a 50km race so how the hell was I going to finish 19 more miles?  Megan, who drove, and was my crew, said I was having these mini convulsions in the middle of my sleep the night before.  The run started with a delay because the bus that was supposed to be shuttling people to the start line hadn't shown up yet.  15 minutes later the race was underway and I felt really good from the onset.  I kept telling myself to keep a good rhythm and keep my stride short and light.
The course is quite beautiful as you wind along this great single track along the American River.  I hooked up with a small group of people from the onset and it was fun just running and chatting.  Then I started to go off on my own feeling good and staying in tune with my running.  Just before the 22 mile aid station I spent five minutes looking for the pink ribbon, which delineates the course, but of course there was no ribbon until someone shouted from afar that I had to loop the parking lot and find the aid station. I was absolutely confounded as to why there wouldn't be an obvious ribbon placing showing the way.  Unfortunately, this would be a reoccurring theme. I got to the aid station as other confused runners were trying to find their way to the aid station.
Rolling into mile 26
I soon arrived at the mile 26 aid station feeling fantastic.  I was immediately told that I was in 10th place overall so I got what I needed from Megan and took off.  I was moving steadily along this wide fireroad keeping an eye out for the sparsely placed ribbons when I saw a ribbon veering right into a 1000 ft climb over an unused trail. So I start climbing this thing wondering where this thing was taking me when all of a sudden I arrive at the top where about 4 junctions present themselves and no other ribbons to be seen except orange ones. I spend 8 minuted frantically searching on and I blindly pick one going steeply downhill. A man suddenly coming up the hill tells me that someone has been supposedly messing with his ribbon placement and that this climb was completely unnecessary. He points me in the right direction and I finally make it to the aid station where I see runners that I know I passed earlier on resting there. They tell me they know this course and took the correct flat route to the aid station gaining about 20 minutes on me. At this point I am livid and Megan sensing that tries to calm me telling me that it's over and to just continue on (turns out others didn't keep their feelings to themselves at that aid station).  I soon depart and venture into unchartered waters. The furthest I have ever gone is 32 miles so I am quite curious on how my body reacts.  I make it to the next station in tact but finding it difficult to run on my own.  I hook up with Craig Sowash and we run together instantly forming a bond and making the running easier.  We are easily staring down a sub 9:30 finish. One mile before the mile 43 aid station I start to get familiar sharp pains on my right lateral knee everytime I bend knowing that I am starting to get tendinitis in my illiotibial (IT) band and like a positive feedback loop, the pain gets progressively worse with each bend. 
IT band really starting to bug me
So I was resigned to walk and shuffle with a stiff leg, keeping from bending it. I soon saw the finish and did a quicker shuffle making it in 10 hours 0 min 0 sec.  The ending was bitter sweet. I was pleased with the time, qualifying for Western States, finishing my first 50 miler but also knowing I could have gone much lower were it not for the ribbon screw ups and the IT band issue. I was also quite nauseated the last 7 miles as well probably from taking too much ibuprofen in hopes of calming my knee down and not taking in enough electrolytes.  I ended up finishing 19th overall and 2nd in my age group. I want to make a special mention to my girl Megan who was absolutely stellar in accompanying me; driving to and fro (12 hrs total), being my crew and meeting me at each aid station with goodies, and being there as psychological support.  Also to the wonderful volunteers there who clapped at every aid station and helped me when I needed it. Also special thanks to the parents and wife of Craig who also cheered me on and were great company for Megan.  They let her follow them to each aid station because of the lack of correct directions. 

Oct 3, 2010

School Obligations v. Backcountry Desires

Form your own path or follow other ones
As I drove to school today I did not want listen to any of the podcasts I downloaded on my ipod because I needed to be able to turn all my focus on the art of contemplation.  The night before I stayed up until midnight dabbling online about future adventures I could take and it left me in an impatient state of mind. Inspiration struck and I wanted to go on a trip right that moment with school having the potential of becoming a very distant memory. Fast forward three days later and I'm sitting here 1040pm Sunday night with an exam in morning wishing that I was done with school.  Listening to nostalgic Coldplay songs I think about the potential of the time that is currently occupied. Right at this moment I could be planning a backcountry trek through the Colorado Plateau in Utah via the Hayduke Trail.  Alas, that is not the case.  There is only this life; the odds of me sitting, breathing, thinking at this moment is beyond my understanding. So what the f*** am I doing here sitting in a goddamned chair in front of a computer.  The answer is that I am realist.  What I do understand is why I delved into the field of PT.  I can say with full authenticity that I very much like physical therapy and I can't imagine another field of academia I could be in.  The complexity of movement and it's practical and functional application.  However, the original intention was simply to provide a means for me to have a good trade, modest income, job security, and the certitude of having time for myself; whether it be for backpacking, thinking, playing, running, or anything! This is what I truly value in the highest order.  So these 3 years in grad school (now 1.75 left) is the price I pay for a lifetime of the above things. Not a bad investment.  (I should also mention that there were the undergrad studies I endured since 2006).  I will be 29 years old when I finally have my license and the first thing I am going to do is backpack the 800 mile Hayduke, Fall 2012.  Then it will hit me that I am finally free of academia and can live my life and do what I truly want to do.  Travel and experience life.  I can understand that career oriented people will delve into their profession, get credentials, earn higher degrees,  participate in research etc; and I know I can have that kind of drive for that type of career. However, what is sacrificed is time and that is not something I will give up. It's too precious, too valuable, too important.  Don't get me wrong, I plan on becoming a good therapist but I don't see myself dedicating myself to the degree of complete immersion. I will have my head out of the water looking for adventures and opportunities.  What is life about really? I interpret it simply as living it; experiencing this globe and the nature that bore us.       

Sep 13, 2010

Trail Running Thoughts

I wanted to put into words my feelings and thoughts on trail running since I am in the middle of training for my first 50 mile trail race in the Rock'n River 50miler on October 16 in Auburn, CA after completing my third 50km (~31mi) run in the Bulldog 50K in a personal best time.  The main reason I started trail running was, simply, to keep in shape for wilderness backpacking, which is my passion.  Physically, backpacking is not easy if you're looking to hike a relatively high number of miles per day, under certain challenging conditions (i.e. elevation, weather, minimal food, etc.), consistently over a period of time.  So, staying in shape keeps me ready for backpacking at whatever time of year.  Fortunately, for me, this provides a whole host of other physical and cognitive benefits that range from having a good cardiovascular system, low body fat levels, higher energy levels, and glad-to-be-alive feelings. I never ran in high school or college but after my first long-distance backpacking experience in 2006 I became intrigued at the small, some would say eccentric, world of trail running.  Now, obviously and purposefully, I say "trail" running because not only is it specific to the wilderness conditions backpacking takes me through and the a natural environment, but because I can say that I have come to deplore road running.  All of my longer races have been on trail except the Los Angeles Marathon which was a complete sensory overload with the hoards of people, unrelenting advertisement, and banging on the unnatural hard top.  I have to add that I dislike driving, cars, and the extent to which roads (e.g. development) have taken over this country; so it seems like disliking road running is a natural fit. Even though it is impractical for me to run (or train) on trails everyday I suspect that I will not be participating in any road events in the near future.  Experiencing nature, the solitude, sounds, smells, and unpredictable terrain makes trail running deeply satisfying.  These aren't competitive events for me as much as challenging and fun endurance adventures.  Most of them are small, no more than 200 runners (LA Marathon 24,000), run by a few people, a handful of volunteers to man the infrequent aid stations, and a few more to greet you at the unpresuming finish to hand you your coaster, medal, or low-scale shirt.  But, as you can already deduce, the runs aren't about that.
I especially find it exciting when a trail race happens to be under more difficult elemental conditions, forcing the runners to pull back the curtain, exposing their own humble truth about themselves. To me, that vulnerability and ensuing suffering becomes a true self-learning experience.

Sep 5, 2010

Part III of "Pacific Coast Bike Tour": Santa Monica, CA to US/Mexico Border

Considering I knew this was my last legitimate chance at taking more than 2 days off until the end of the school semester I decided to continue piecing the Pacific Coast of the continental U.S. by bicycle with my girlfriend, Megan. We have already biked Santa Monica to San Francisco north so we wanted to attempt a non-headwind direction: south!
Fixing flat #2 on this trip
We started in Santa Monica, Friday morning, under the overcast layer of fog that has plagued Southern California most of the summer.  We passed through Manhattan, Hermosa, Redondo, and Newport before stopping to wolf down some excellent greek food in Long Beach.  The rest of our day had us going through the surprisingly nice community of Huntington Beach and uppity Laguna Beach to finally arrive at Capistrano Beach ~80 miles later. The entire day felt like a pleasant afternoon bike ride which is a remarkably different situation with 30-40 mph headwinds.  
After spending a night in the terribly reviewed but relatively cheap Seaside Inn, we continued our journey through Encinitas, Del Mar, La Jolla, and Pacific Beach.  We arrived in downtown San Diego in mid-afternoon, ~75 miles later, after a hillier day.  The Gaslamp District turned out to be a pretty charming area and even better we bunked at the International Hostel, which I must say is a gem. 
Southern Terminus
The last day had us taking a ferry to Coronado, coasting the final 17 miles along the thin penninsula (34 mi. round trip).  We thankfully were able to take the earlier Amtrak train back to LA after performing Amazing Race-esque   maneuvering to the station. (Yes, that included us shoving children out of our way).  
Besides not having sunny SoCal weather and dealing with holiday weekend drivers the trip was quiet fun and well worth it.  Another piece of the coast complete. The next section is going to be from Oregon to San Francisco which I believe is going to resemble more the Central Coast than what this past weekend had us negotiating.  

Sep 1, 2010

Eastern Grand Canyon (May 16-22, 2010)

     Two days after my first year of grad school was complete I drove to the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park to meet my friend JustPaul ('03 PCT) who happened to have a prized backcountry permit for the next 6 days.  He was also leading a group of five people on a day hike that would have us hiking from South Rim to North Rim. The 23-mile 10,650ft elevation trek commenced at the Bright Angel Trailhead (TH) passing through Indian Gardens, Phantom Ranch, Cottonwood Camp, and finally the North Kaibab TH.  After spending the next day at the North Rim, Paul and I continued our trek east along the North Rim via the Ken Patrick Trail.  The GC had a late spring snow pack and it looked like we were the first people through because of the amount of snow, the amount of blow-down, and brush. And yes, Ed Abbey was right, everything pokes and stings.  We were able to get through Imperial Point and finally to the deserted Nankoweap Trailhead around 3pm.

Paul, negotiating the thin ledges and  drop-offs of the Nankoweap
     In the distance I could spot the magnificent Painted Desert, Marble Canyon, and Vermillion Cliffs.  This is supposedly the "MOST difficult of named trails" in GC NP and this article gives you a good description of its features.  We descended the fantastic earth-red soil of the Supai Formation that had me feeling like I was walking above the earth.  We were running low on water around 730pm so we descended to a ledge and decided to set up camp.  We were still 5 miles from any reliable water after an "small, intermittent seep" did not present itself.  That night I cowboy camped while under the most vivid stars and Milky Way Galaxy I had ever seen.  The next day we continued on the trail to Nankoweap Creek where two unique lizards entertained us with a courtship dance of sorts while we drank the refreshing cold water.  Four miles later we reached the Colorado River.  We saw the few motorized boaters (commercial and private) passing and Paul spotted Hopi granaries in the adjacnet cliffs in the distance. We decided to cross-country along the Colorado River and hope to get to the Little Colorado confluence 10 river-miles south where we would stick our thumbs out and hope to get a river-hitch to the south side of the river and continue on the Beamer Trail.  This proved more difficult than expected, turning out to be a difficult up and down plod in 95-degree heat following game trails with foxtail barley getting into every nook of our shoes and socks.  We also had the issue of successfully getting a river-hitch.  The basis of us getting a ride was on JustPaul's hear-say that some folks were able to do it and were fortunate enough to get a National Park Service ranger to do it for them. I asked Paul the odds of us seeing NPS people and he said a million to 1.  After about 5 miles of exposed cross-country and only 4 river miles (~5-6 trail miles) in 4 hours we happened upon Kwagunt Creek and stepped out on the beach; lo and behold there were two white motorized rafts with big black "NPS" letters docked on the beach.  Paul and I started laughing at this stunning coincidence (or was it?) and walked right up to the boats.  They were just as surprised to see us as we were to see them.  We spoke with Dave, who explained to us that their trip was for a wild bird and beetle research project and within 20 minutes we were offered dinner, breakfast, and a river ride to where we needed to be in the morning! River-magic!  I was feeling out-of-this-world to be on a pristine beach with fine, warm, weather, good cooking for the night, and a ride in the early AM.  I was also amazed at the efficiency and organization of the set-up for dinner, breakfast, and the ammo poop-box. Paul and I volunteered to clean the dishes and we were told to toss the dish water in the Colorado as well as our urine whenever we decided to take a leak.  I had no clue that was an official river rule: pee in the Colorado River.  I had not been filtering or purifying water the whole trip, but after three seconds of thought I wasn't about to start now.  We were given our life-vests, rain gear (water gets in the boat and the Colorado River water is freezing thanks to Glen Canyon Dam), and safety instructions for the upcoming rapids. This was my first Colorado River boating experience and I couldn't have imagined a better situation.  After making several research stops, examining old mines, and Hopi Indian salt mines, we were taken all the way to the Tanner TH and started on the Escalante Route.
View from the Escalante Route
       This turned out to be my favorite trail section of the trip. Expansive views of the turquoise Colorado against the red rocks of the Canyon.  The final 2 days presented with JustPaul almost stepping on a rattlesnake barefoot, high winds, awesome hiking through Seventyfive Mile Creek, and the exit out of the very steep Grandview Trail.  This was my most extensive hike in the Canyon, enlightening me to the world beyond the overused "corridor" section (i.e. Bright Angel, South/North Kaibab Trails). I also want to add that I am just about finished reading about a contemporary pioneer of the Grand Canyon, Harvey Butchart, in "The Grand Obsession."  My interest in the Canyon has only grown from this experience and book, and have no doubts that I will further explore remote sections in future trips. If you would like to see accompanying photos for this trip, click here.  

Aug 30, 2010

Summer 2010 Recap

As summer of 2010 is coming to a close I reflect back and make a determination of whether it was a "successful" one.  Probably since my elementary school days, I continue to have a deep belief that summers should be for play outside.  As a kid it meant playing outdoors from sunup to sundown and living in the moment, but we probably never ventured any further than several blocks.  Now as a grown-up kid those feelings have never disappeared, but now my playground is basically anywhere of my choosing.  As far as this past summer is concerned I would give it a resounding yes as to whether I consider it a successful summer.  All the trips I lined up went without a hitch even with the limited days in between trips.  I had most things planned since February and everything was contingent upon whether I was able to get the early 6 week slot (May 24-July 2) for my grad school summer affiliation.  Fortunately, everything worked out in that department allowing the trips I had planned come to fruition. In the subsequent posts I will discuss the five treks (Eastern Grand Canyon, Trans-Catalina Trail, John Muir Trail (2nd time), Sierra High Route section, and the Wonderland Trail) and post photos starting with the Eastern Grand Canyon.  I still have one more bike trip lined up with my girlfriend Megan as we continue to piece together the Pacific Coast of the United States; Santa Monica, CA to the Mexican border over Labor Day weekend. That will officially be the last trip of this summer. I will also discuss the trail running I take part in this time of year, especially with my first 50 mile trail run in October to possibly attempt to qualify for Western States 100.

Aug 29, 2010

First Post

I am starting this blog to basically keep myself accountable to write about my experiences whether in school, backpacking, or running.  I don't honestly know if this will do the trick but I do enjoy going back into my private (written) journal and re-reading entries and reflecting on my evolution.  I attend California State University, Northridge for a Masters Degree in Physical Therapy and I backpack. I also run, mostly trails, to keep in shape for backpacking.  This should be a fun little blog.

Denali Expedition Recap

Summit Ridge I won’t be writing about the day to day as that was succinctly put in the twelve “Denali Transmit” posts which you ...