Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Sydney McLaughlin, dominance reminiscent of Obea Moore

I was just reading an old post where I mentioned the video of Obea Moore with an outstanding anchor leg in a 4x400m relay.  That reminded me of a recent race by Sydney McLaughlin. McLaughlin's performance in this "Swedish Relay" looks even more dominant, starting a 400m quite a ways (>20m) back in 6th place and finishing first by a couple of meters. Also dominant is her earlier state record where literally no one else is in the picture for the last 60m. And neither race was her main event (400m hurdles).

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Not quite injured but ...

A couple of weeks ago, I ran a mile on sidewalks on Tuesday and then again on Thursday.  I'm still paying for it with a sore left calf (usually my good side).  Running in grass doesn't cause problems.  Running hills on trails actually helps cure problems.  In general, I need to run hills to keep my legs healthy.  I now need to get conditioned on hills and grass.  At some point, I then will be able to run on the dirt tracks at the high schools.  But it looks like I just need to stay off pavement, at least until I'm in much better condition.  I rode the bike today but I'm trying to get in 3 to 4 days per week on the Whittier hills.

Speaking of the bike, I modified another thing on the Raleigh Twenty since my accident.  I cut the end off some pedals, one of which already had the end broken off.  This made them about 3/4" shorter than the folding pedals that were on the bike.  This will make them less likely to come in contact with the slanted face of the levee, should I ever try that again.  I tried the bike out by hand a couple of times while on my ride to check the clearance.  Right now, it looks like if the uphill pedal is at the bottom of the stroke, it might just barely touch if the bike frame is perfectly upright.  If I try this out while riding, I plan to walk it down the face, then ride it at the bottom of the face and maybe try climbing back up.
So now the changes I've made are

  • Put fatter (50x406) tires on the wheels to lift the bike frame about 0.3".
  • Replace the rear fixed gear wheel with a coaster brake wheel which 1) allows me to coast and 2) gives me a rear brake.
  • Reduce the width of the pedals by about 3/4" which should help hitting the pedal on the sloped surface of the levee. 
The two things I haven't done are
  • Change the wheels to 451 rims.  I think this would cost between $100 and $150.  This would only raise the frame at most about 0.7" since the tires will get thinner.  So not yet.
  • Change to a 140 mm crankset.  I currently have a 165 mm crankset.  I've used the 140 before on another bike.  The effect of it is that it is harder to pedal and really, the bike needs to be geared down and then pedaled faster.  That's possible but not desirable.

I also have to give credit to my wife.  She doesn't discourage me at all from going back out there and frankly confronting my fears.  She just asks for my expected time to get back home.  And fortunately, she's somewhat trained by ultrarunning where I would underestimate my return time from workouts by hours.

Finally, I'm pretty happy with how my body responded to the crash, if not how my legs respond to pavement.  I felt like I was in a mental fog for about a week which is a lot better than what others report after a concussion.  At least a couple of things actually improved.  Sudoku seemed like a little different game and now it looks like I have improved at it.  Also, I got rid of the bad habit of chewing my nails.  I think my beat up finger was the first thing that stopped me biting my nails, but now my dental hygienist told me that I have a crack in my tooth, so I've put a definite stop to that.

Monday, June 12, 2017


I was running laps around the fields behind the Cypress Community Center and Cypress High School.  I was playing around with the route and running on the track (since it wasn't muddy) to make 4 laps add up to 8 miles.  One thing I noticed is that right around the geographical center at the border between the Community Center and the High School, swifts (a bird) would start flying laps around me.  One even flew just a few feet in front of me and they always fly within 3 feet of the ground.
After looking it up, it looks like these were white throated swifts (by a process of elimination).  Including wings, they are about the size of one of my hands with wings that are pointed at the tips and two pointed tips at the two corners of their tail.  When they fly, they are completely silent and maneuver very well.  They stop flying in my vicinity when I'm close to a fence and they don't want to fly through a 5 foot wide gap between me and the fence.
The behavior of most animals seems motivated either by food or by family with a few of the more intelligent animals having food related behavior bordering on play.  Crows for instance take a behavior related to stealing eggs - forcefully dropping an egg to break it - and make it more like playing with a ball.  We've had crows dropping immature persimmon fruit on our roof - we can hear it bouncing and the crows chasing after it.  I once saw some crows that had a round plastic container from a vending machine, dropping the container on the sloping side of a levee and hopping down the levee to keep up with the bouncing plastic ball.
So my first guess at the swift activity was that they were trying to intimidate me by "buzzing" me when I got close to their nest.  After reading about their feeding activity where they catch insects while flying, perhaps they expected me to attract insects (as cattle and horses do) and were hoping to pick up something to eat.  They didn't strike me as intimidating, partially because they fly so low.  Hummingbirds, for instance, buzz people, etc in a definitely intimidating fashion, flying directly overhead.  Hummingbirds also have that diving behavior although that strikes me as mating related.
Anyway, if you have some knowledge of white throated swift behavior or can correct my guesses in some way, I'd like to hear about it.