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Tuesday, January 28, 2014


Saturday I almost beat the sun to Briones peak.  I left the Mt. Wanda staging area on my bike in the dark, though a glow in the eastern sky indicated that the race was on.  I could leave in the middle of the night and sit atop the summit to gloat over my rival as it peeks over the horizon.  But that isn't sport - so I offer my competitor a minor handicap.   I sleep in a little.  
About 10 minutes from the summit - I'm not going to
make it in time...
But once I'm out of bed, the odds begin swinging rapidly in the sun's favor.  An extra minute spent looking for arm-warmers or low tire pressure can give the orb a distinct advantage.  Galileo may rest in peace, I understand that my solar rival is actually doing nothing at all, merely pouring energy into the ether as our planet rotates my little town and Briones Regional Park in its general direction.  I on the other hand, dogged by the passive inevitability of an inanimate rival, must  haul myself and a bike 1500' up and along rutted trails.  I sweat, while it simply shines.  The sky grows brighter the higher I climb, and on a good morning, the clouds ignite overhead with the radiant heat of the sun flaring across the local atmosphere.  If I time it just right, I reach the peak a few minutes before the sun does. Saturday I slept in about 5 minutes too long.

I don't relish riding the trails in complete darkness, even with my lights.  Let's just say that the rustling along the trail is easier to ignore when there's a little daylight.  The time between the sky's first glow giving at least a silhouette to the trees and the time of a visible sunrise varies across the seasons, but is generally enough time to get from the park entrance to the highest points in the park - If I hurry. 

This accomplishment is made simpler in the winter, since from the perspective of Briones Peak, the elevation of the eastern horizon is greater toward the south.  In the summer, the sun rises, albeit much earlier in the morning, to the north of Mt. Diablo where the horizon is lower and less obscured.  Toward the end of Autumn the sun is rising nearly right between the 2 peaks, and finally as winter sends the rising sun furthest to the south, the sun actually rises just south of the mountain after climbing the Diablo foothills.

But only from this vantage point...  Everything I've just described is only true as viewed from one place on earth - the summits of Briones Regional Park.

The following pictures were taken on Sunday morning on my 12 mile run through the Carquinez Strait Headlands.  You can see - though obscured by clouds along the horizon - that the sun is rising to the left or north of the mountain, while above in the pictures from Saturday, the sun rises to the right or south.
Looking East

Looking North-East 30 minutes later
This picture actually looks a little bit like winter.  By the end of my run on Sunday, the marine layer had moved in to completely obscure the sky, and the temperature actually seemed to drop as the morning dawned.  But no rain.  The drought continues.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Welcome Back

The sun was up before I reached Briones Peak - I felt somewhat disappointed.  The last quarter mile of trail up and over the top leads south-east so instead of seeing Mt. Diablo back-lit by the glowing embers of a new day, I was dazzled, stumbling blindly across the ridge.  Saturday dawned a warm morning for January, so by the time the sun was up, I was already sweating and feeling over-dressed.  It was 37 degrees when I drove away from the house, but after sweating up hills for an hour I found I had overdressed.  The tights were too much after a 5 mile run with 1000' of elevation gain, and I found shorts to be quite comfortable as I transitioned to the mountain bike.  I didn't regret the change.  Run, Bike, Sweat, Burn.  No rain in months and, alas, none in the forcast, so the trails are quite nice.  It got up to 70 degrees.

I think I can announce that I am officially running again.  So far so good anyway.  I've been experimenting with some short slow runs, and have been hesitant to make any bold statements.

With a hand-full of 5 mile runs and solid 9.5 mile run over the last couple weeks, I feel I may be back in the sport.  All the research I've perused regarding "coming back" from an injury reflects a cautious, slow, measured approach - in direct opposition to my inclination.  I'm all eagerness to be back running and the odds of me over-doing it are great.  My cardio is already there and my legs are catching up fast since I've been peddling away the miles during my recovery, and though my Plantar Fasciitis is still in slow retreat, the running doesn't seem to be affecting it one way or the other; all of which means that I'm likely to start running faster and further than I should - before I should.

With a little patience, in a few weeks all of the residual pain from the plantar fascia should be completely replaced with the standard assortment of hard earned sore muscles.

I can't remember where I said it - and it may have been here in this blog, I haven't gone back to check - but it came out so naturally that it surprised even me.  I was chatting with someone about my recovery and all the running I had missed, and frankly feeling a little morose.  My comment was, "I've missed a lot of sunrises."  And it has occurred to me that part of running, for me, is experiencing the raw natural world.  The sunrise is mine when I'm running.  The wildflowers are mine.  The startled deer and coyote are mine.  The scent of a sea breeze still hanging in the air on a foggy morning is mine.  I share them with God alone.  I've missed those times of running through His garden with Him.  Sometimes we chat, but most times we just run along together enjoying each other's company.  I think Saturday morning in that dazzling burst he said, "Welcome back."

Sunday, January 5, 2014

A Movie

I haven't made a movie in a long time. All of the good movie makers cost money, and the ones that come free with windows are frustrating at best.  But, I've put together a very simple one of today's ride.

My in-laws gave me a small video recorder for Christmas and today it got its first bike ride.  I will make a handful of adjustments in the future, but here's a sample of the first attempt.

You will be watching my descent from Table Top, just east of Briones Peak, heading north down Spengler trail.  I would have inserted some sort of cartoonish whapping noise when the branch hits me in the head, but alas, I only get one audio track at a time... See paragraph 1 above.