Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Good and Bad of San Diego, 28 April 2012

The good: the Creek to Bay Clean-up drew a real crowd, especially down along the river in Fashion Valley where it was sorely needed. Among the things I or my neighboring cleaner-uppers pulled out: tennis balls, spray bottles, shoes, shopping carts, lots of styrofoam (that's a real pain) and, of all things, a stroller. By noon at the end of the day the river looked great. If you weren't there, how about next year? Or how about going to an event sooner than that? Here's the website.

The bad: had a great run afterwards along the coast from Solana Beach to La Jolla; beautiful warm day here in San Diego. Del Mar runners, are the water fountains at the community center always just kind of dripping? Seems like if you're going to have water fountains, can't Del Mar City Council make sure they have enough pressure so they're not a public health hazard? I certainly appreciate that they're there, but as they were today, they're barely useable.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Cold After Long Runs

Recently I've noticed that I've been very cold after long runs, and it's happening more and more.  Anyone else?  Various sources on forums I've search have cited several possible contributing factors:

- Poor hydration
- Hypoglycemia (and I'm switching to a lower-carb diet currently)

- Activity at tissue level to get rid of heat as a result of prolonged overheating, even though you're no longer active (note, this is not the same as hypothalamus re-set that happens during fever)

I'm going to to pay more attention to hydration but if it's #2 and/or 3 on that list, I don't know if there's anything I'm willing and able to do to fix it.  Otherwise I feel great not eating carbs all day long (normally in the form of bad food anyway) and I'm not going to cut back the intensity of my workouts just for a little discomfort at the end.  Any readers who've had this experience and/or have further information, please comment!

San Diego Creek to Bay Clean-up, Saturday 28 April (tomorrow!)

Got a free Saturday morning? How about meet some people who care about the canyons and beaches and parks of San Diego? The Creek to Bay Cleanup is tomorrow and has sites all over San Diego. The one last year was a blast. Learn more here.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Support This Awesome Team in The Relay

The Relay is a 200 mile running race where teams of 12 relay-run from Calistoga at the north end of Napa Valley, all the way to Santa Cruz. (For you East Coast types, that's running from New York to Baltimore.) It's every bit as fun as it sounds but you shouldn't plan on getting anything done that weekend...and that weekend is 5-6 May. Coming right up! Even better, the event raises money for organ donation, and here's how you can help: go to the website for the relay team with the best name, ...And You Shall Know Us By the Trail of Drugs, and help out one of the runners, Mathew Lomas. (In the interest of full disclosure, Matt is awesome, but then again so is this cause). Link is here.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

North Carolina Govt Tries to Shut Down Diet and Exercise Blog

This has dirty guild politics written all over it. The NC Board of Dietetics/Nutrition is trying to shut down John Durant's blog. Apparently we can't discuss the health of what we eat without permission from the NC state goverment! (Not in NC? If someone in NC ever reads something you write about that, you're on the hook. This is how governments prosecute people whose "offensive" content isn't illegal in their own state or country.) I've spent my fair share of time complaining about the paleo movement here, but this is just a plain old free speech issue. However much I don't like paleo, I do like that we (supposedly) live in a country where people can publicly discuss their dissenting opinions. Support John!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Kittatinny Ridge to Be Protected

Appalachian Trail above Port Clinton, Rockylvania. From Gone Hikin.

Kittatinny Ridge, which forms the northern boundary of Berks County, Pennsylvania, is set to be protected, partly because it's in important bird migration route. You Appalachian Trail thru-hikers or aspirers there-to might recognize it as the stretch which is bisected by the Schuylkill River where it emerges from Pennsylvania's Coal Regions. This is great news. I posted a picture from this very spot just a year and a half ago.

View Larger Map

So on the East Coast they're protecting their open space, while here in California we're closing down state parks and beaches? Something's not adding up there.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Insane Diver is Insane

Emphasis mine: "Sometimes if you run into em, and they're a little bit aggressive and you"re trying to get some work done, then you, you try and swim at em, and sometimes it'll spook em away where they don't come back, and sometimes they'll loop back around from behind and then they'll come back and check you out again." So says Ron Elliott, a sea urchin diver in the Farallons, in the documentary above.

Apparently he also considered becoming a North Australian river-swimmer, or an African-savannah run-around-naked-smearing-meat-on-yourself-and-shouting-"EAT ME" guy.

I have trouble concentrating on work if someone is talking nearby. Great whites circling would be at a different level I think.

Berry Creek Falls, Big Basin

(from BayerCruz Youtube channel)

Ran up there from Waddell Beach, after a quick visit to Pescadero Marsh (was that little trail there before?) I posted a video because still frames of waterfalls miss a lot. The sound is part of it but the whole reason a waterfall attracts our attention is the motion. Animals (and babies) look for longer at things that surprise them (this is used in experiments) and I always wonder if that's why we find waterfalls interesting. Do other primates? Do dogs?

I'm very glad I went. With all the recent weather it was roaring, much higher volume than this, and I wasn't even thinking about the falls specifically, I just wanted to hit this trail before I left the Bay Area. There were two crossings out but it was still fun, picking my way across make-shift bridges - there would be no fording this stream. But when I first saw the white roar up ahead through the green I remembered why this trail was so great.

I've been pretty stressed recently and the immediate sense of relief that came from looking at these falls for a few minutes - just looking at them and enjoying the summed splatter of all this water - was overwhelming. It's like forced mindfulness, looking at the trails the water takes down the rocks, and the way it's atomized to vague mist at the bottom but crisp and clear at the top as the first streams clear the ledge; looking back and forth at the two is like a contrast bath for your eyes. The ecozones on the rock face next to waterfalls are also cool - watching how the plant community changes in just a few feet, showing us a temperature-and-humidity time average over months and years. But mostly it's the black rocks and the white water and the green moss, and the rush of the falls after the rain that's the best. It was a good day.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

RIP Caballo Blanco

AKA Micah True, AKA Michael Randall Hickman, adopted by the Raramuri, AKA the Tarahumara, found in Gila National Forest in New Mexico two weeks ago, cause of death unknown at the time of writing of this obituary. If you read Born to Run you know who this is, if not, never mind.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Exercise Increases Potential for Addiction in Mice

It's apparently science week here at MDK10 Outside. There have just been lots of interesting articles. This one looked at the effects on the reward system of mice from running, using cocaine as a model for addiction, and what they found: after withdrawal from cocaine, "Those that had been runners when they first tried cocaine, however, lost their [addiction] slowly, if at all. Many, in fact, never stopped hanging out in the drug-associated locale, a rather poignant reminder of the power of addiction." That second sentence I emphasized for the hashers in the room. See you at Triple Rock tonight?

In all seriousness, from a decision-making standpoint, does this information mean that people should stop exercising? No. Duh. It just means you shouldn't use addictive drugs, which I think you probably knew already. But now at least we have an excuse for chocolate and beer addictions. Full lay press article here.

The mice in the experiment also learned to fly and wore little suities.

Pennsylvania: Are You in California?

(California readers: I occasionally post stuff about outdoors-type stuff going on in Pennsylvania where I grew up.) I just read about the French Creek wildfire, with air drops and everything. What business does PA have with having this kind of fire? Where do you think you are, SoCal?

In all seriousness, big wildfires are scary, and I'm glad that there were firefighters ready to go on this, and that no one was hurt. French Creek and the Iron Horse Trail are the greatest Berks County resources no one uses, and it will be interesting to see how the regrowth in mid-Atlantic woodland differs from SoCal mountains.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Chemistry of Runners High

Most interesting, there's an anandamide spike - to simplify, a pleasure chemical that is the endogenous compound for the receptor that THC stimulates. Chocolate has anandamide in it, which has been advanced as one reason for people's strange behavior around it. Include me on that list.

I originally found this at io9, which questions the evolutionary value of runner's high (or if it's just noise in an overtaxed system); one possible explanation is obvious in io9's link to a great Youtube video of an African persistence hunter. One of the reasons I started writing this blog was to puncture the Just-So stories of paleo enthusiasts who often claim that running is "unnatural" and bad for you. Yet here we have our species' remaining hunter-gatherers doing exactly that! (Apaches are reported to have done the same thing.)

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Dualists Make Worse Choices About Exercise

I'm not talking about this kind of duelist, I'm talking about this kind of dualist, i.e. the philosophical kind, not the gun kind. (Although the gun kind can certain have negative health implications as well.) Article here.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Best Pacing for 400 and 800m Races

Modeled by physcists: "Here a toy model is used to understand a puzzling phenomenon from the sport of track and field. Races are almost always won, and records set, in 400 m and 800 m running events by people who run the first half of the race faster than the second half, which is not true of shorter races, nor of longer."

What's the Farthest You've Been From a Road?

Not with an engine getting you there. (So off-roading, airplanes 7 miles up, cruise ships don't count. Muscle power. Fine, you can use horses. But YOU know what I mean.)

As mentioned previously, this is an interesting question, and unless you're a traily/naturey runner or hiker or outdoorsperson, chances are you haven't been very far at all from a road. Now look at this map below (the one on the right - from Wired.) The color codes are for how much land is more than a half mile from a road.

When I did my little run around the Bay, I found it sobering that there are places you can drive to (on a highway) but for safety reasons, really can't get to on foot.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Wildcat Peak in Tilden

View to the northeast from Wildcat Peak. By Harold Davis. To the west you're exactly across from the Golden Gate, but I'm sure you've already seen that damn thing before, and any direction you look in is fantastic.

Not a long one but a nice fast one straight up Wildcat Peak in North Tilden. At the visitor center you will find redwoods grown from seeds that went to the moon and back, and a little animal farm with cute baby sheep (tiny) and a rooster that I had to pick up and put back in his pen with his buddies because the dummy had escaped and clearly didn't know what to do with his freedom, and there was no one there but me. My good deed for the day! Behind the pens were two deer and a big old flock of turkeys who were hanging out eating and were, frankly, insultingly unafraid of me.

You know how if you run a lot of trails you end up making up your own name for features? At the top of Wildcat you will find what I term the Circular Ruins (and if you're a Borges fan and you've read that, I'm the real one. I think. No fire or dreaming was involved at least. If you haven't read it you're wondering how much ayahuasca I'm on. Answer: not nearly enough.)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Redwood Cloning Attempt #1

ABSTRACT: I tried to clone a redwood from a branch instead of a root and it didn't work. Also, I'm a big dummy.

INTRODUCTION: Redwoods are cool, so I wanted to grow one in a cup, and I know you can because you can buy them like that.

METHOD: I found a redwood branch on a trail in Ventana Wilderness (Los Padres NF near Big Sur). I took it home. After two weeks of letting it lay on the floor I put it in the bottom half of a 1 L plastic soda bottle with soil, gave it some water and a *little* light, and put a plastic bag around it (with plenty of holes) to seal in the moisture. I watered it once a week, despite a certain person (let's just call her "A.R.") who is a nasty person and wanted this to fail from the beginning.

RESULTS: Dead tree branch sticking out of soil in the bottom half of a 1 L plastic soda bottle. Well aren't you happy A.R. Now go steal pennies out of wishing wells too.

DISCUSSION: The hell with it. I'm just going to buy one at Muir Woods or somewhere else.

REFERENCES: Your mom (personal correspondence).

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Tattooed by Lightning

This is a Lichtenberg figure: the characteristic tissue trace of a lightning strike. Via

If lightning strikes you, you probably won't get off as easy as this guy (a few nasty blisters? I mean come on.) More on lightning safety here. For those of us in California, lightning isn't generally too much of a concern, unless you're in the Sierras - which can get struck by lightning any month of the year. Electric fields strengthen on high points, so keep this in mind when hiking up anything pointy! (The very Doctor Seuss-looking Mt. Thielsen below, in the central Cascades, is covered with glassy tracks in the stone where lightning has struck it.)