A Very Vertical Weekend

July 25, 2017

Three days, three great workouts – and all three had a big vertical component. Going vertical is hard work: you’re lifting your entire body weight, whether it’s up stairs, a hill, or an incline on the treadmill. It’s great for your legs, and great for your heart.

It all began on Friday night, when I went shopping for Read the rest of this entry »

Hiking Buddy AND February Weigh-In

February 5, 2014

I had a new hiking buddy a few days ago. His name is Jimi.


I got to spend the day with Jimi, and I don’t even know who his owner is. My buddy and neighbor Patrick was dogsitting for a friend of his, but Patrick had to work all day, so I took Jimi. We had a good 90-minute hike in Fryman Canyon, along the very same trail where Read the rest of this entry »

Busted By a Stranger

November 7, 2013

Guess where I’m writing this post! No, really. Guess!

If you guessed the juror assembly room at the Los Angeles County Superior Courthouse, you win! Three cheers for jury duty. I’m waiting to see if I’ll get assigned to a trial. Meanwhile, I got nothing but time to put together a blog post, so here goes!

Yesterday I returned, after a 37-day hiatus, to the pool. I felt pretty good in the water, and swam 3,200 yards in 70 minutes. How do I look with a swim cap and goggles?


Read the rest of this entry »

Attempted Murder

February 17, 2012

Someone tried to kill me yesterday. And it was one of my closest friends! Here’s what went down:

You’ve read about my friend Tavi before on this blog. He’s mentioned on this blog way too much as it is, and now, with this post, his head might quite literally explode. But just to refresh any foggy memories: I’ve known Tavi since high school, he’s an aerialist and dancer, he lives nearby, he’s one of my closest friends. Over a year ago, Tavi and I hiked in Fryman Canyon, a beautiful nearby park. Tavi took me on a gorgeous winding trail – check out pictures here. During the hike, Tavi casually mentioned that he usually runs this trail, which flabbergasted me, because I had difficulty walking it – there are parts that are very steep, and the trail is very narrow.

Earlier this week, Tavi says to me, “Are you ready to run Fryman with me?” I laughed, and replied that I’d never be ready to run Fryman. Tavi thought otherwise, and for the next day or so, I gave it serious thought. I always tend to underestimate my physical abilities. I never used to think I could ever run a 10K, but I’ve done it. Climbing nearly 100 stories without stopping seems impossible to wrap my mind around, but I did it just the other day. I could run Fryman, couldn’t I?

I decided that I could. And that’s how, yesterday afternoon, I found myself walking with Tavi towards the Fryman Canyon trail head.

The previous hike with Tavi wasn’t my first time in Fryman – I’d been there with Jen and Tiffany for a hike (possibly two) at the asscrack of dawn, and also hiked there with Chris. Even though the routes varied, there’s one constant: it’s steep. Fryman Canyon is located in the Hollywood Hills, and you enter at the bottom and can hike all the way up to Mulholland Drive, the road at the tippy-top.

As we approached the start of our run, the steepness loomed large in my mind, and I made a mental goal: Complete the run without stopping, and if I can’t manage to run, than don’t walk for more than 10 seconds. I wanted to keep moving. I knew that if I walked too long, it would be difficult to get back into running.

We started running at the base of the mountain, and thankfully, one of the steepest parts was at the beginning. I say thankfully because 1) it got a tough part out of the way early on, while I was still fresh, and 2) I knew that if I could conquer this part, I could conquer every other part of the trail.

The run was tough. Tough. After the first few minutes of steep uphill running, I felt ready to crawl under the brush and pass out. Having Tavi in front of me was a good motivator – and he was a good sport, stopping every so often and doing jumping jacks or lunges until I caught up with him.

The nice part about the run was that it’s probably the prettiest run I’ve ever done. There’s all sorts of great views in Fryman, which is loaded with ravines, ridges, and switchbacks, and with the narrow trails, high grasses, and encroaching bushes, there were times when a machete would’ve been helpful to clear the way. The downside is that it’s hard to take in the views because the trail is uneven, undulating, and rocky – if you don’t pay attention to your feet, you could easily twist an ankle or worse. And by worse, I mean stumble and fall down a 30-80 foot near-vertical hillside, which are all over the place.

At one point, you have to traverse a fallen tree to get over a ravine. Here I am not-so-gracefully dismounting from the tree:

But I hit the ground and started running again immediately:

After the tree came the second major uphill part, which seemed, at the time, to be as vertical as a ladder, and it was here that it first occurred to me that I very well might die. Tavi was trying to kill me. He was doing a good job of it, too – my heart was pounding, my legs and core were burning, and I was on the verge of tears. That second uphill part was the last terrible part, though, and the rest of the run was downhill or flat.

The run ended with a final descent down a steep embankment, where Tavi got this picture of me picking my nose:

I’m not picking my nose, I’m pushing my glasses up!

The final stretch was along a fire road that led to the street that we parked on, and we finished at a gate that I collapsed onto:

I finished the run in 41 minutes. Add in the walking to and from the trail head, plus a few minutes of catching my breath at that gate, and we were away from our cars for a little over an hour. Last time we walked this route in two hours. It felt great to cut that time in half!

My theory that Tavi tried to kill me evaporated pretty quickly once my heart rate fell back into a reasonable range. And I’m proud that I accomplished my goals: I never stopped, and the only time I walked more than 10 seconds was during the most strenuous uphill stretches, which were more climbing than walking anyway.

As we walked back to the car, Tavi mentioned “the next time we do this…” and I thought, next time? Isn’t doing it once enough? Just like stand-up paddleboarding and ice skating, I’m glad to have tried running Fryman, but whether I run it again is TBD. We shall see. I’m not going to be rushing back tomorrow to do it again, that’s for sure. Only time will tell if I do it again. Doing it once is enough for me to proudly say…

Keep it up, David!

Back to the Blog

April 12, 2011

Yesterday’s post, where I compared my weight loss to M&Ms, bowling balls, country music stars, and more (did you read it? It’s quite fun!), was my first real blog post in almost a week, and it felt nice to post something again, although I must admit it also felt nice to take a little break from the blog for a few days.  I find that I put undue pressure on myself (in many regards), and last week I found myself getting stressed because I was struggling to come up with blog topics, and I started feeling like if I didn’t post I’d be letting my readers down, and that stressed me further and made it tougher to come up with compelling things to write about…

It was a nasty, vicious circle (and so unimportant, in the grand scheme of things), but I recognized it, and decided to step away from the whole situation altogether.  I don’t want that stress in my life, especially not linked to blogging, an activity that I enjoy, and find motivating and therapeutic.  Not thinking about the blog for a few days was a lovely respite, and, of course, once I stopped looking for topics, all sorts of great ideas came to me, including some of the weight loss comparisons in yesterday’s post.  So now there’s some catching up to do, and I look forward to doing it!

I thought I’d first catch you up on my exercise.  Last week I didn’t work out as much as I would have liked (which, I think, added to my stress).  Monday was a planned rest day, but on both Wednesday and Friday laziness got the better of me, and I didn’t move a muscle.  Luckily, I had great workouts on Tuesday (boot camp class) and Thursday (ellliptical, free weights, and recumbent bike at the gym), so the week wasn’t a complete wash.

So, on Saturday morning, I decided I couldn’t let the past week become a habit, and since then, I’ve had 4 fun, great workouts, and lucky for you, they all come with visual aids!

1) Slimmons (Saturday Morning): The theme for Richard Simmons’ class on Saturday Morning was all new music, and Richard decided to dress as a pink poodle to lead the class.  Because I’ve been posting videos from recent classes, you know that Richard goes all out when he dons a costume (this post has a video of him as one of The Four Tops, and this post as a video of him in KISS make-up and wardrobe), and Saturday was no exception.  Check it out!

Did you see me in that video?  I’m in a green t-shirt.  It’s strange – when you watch the video on YouTube, you can easily see me behind Richard during the last 10 seconds or so, but when I embedded it here, I get cropped out.  Oh well.  It was a crowded class, but a good one, and I’m quite certain the first class I’ve taken that was taught by a dog!  I saw Richard kiss a few people after class, and then wipe away the pink smudges he left on their faces… hilarious.  I got away pink smudge-free (we air-hugged).

2) Fryman Canyon Hike (Saturday Afternoon). I was putzing around my place later that afternoon when my friend Chris texted me, and proposed going hiking.  I didn’t have plans, so why not?  We headed to Fryman Canyon (which I’ve blogged about before – here and here), and had a great hour-long hike.  At one point, Chris snapped a picture of me on his phone, which he emailed to me later, with a subject line that read “Album Cover”.  Sure enough, it looks like it could be the cover image of a 1960’s folk album, so I had a little fun with photoshop and came up with this:

It’ll be available on iTunes and Amazon soon (and by ‘soon’, I mean ‘never’).

3) Run (Sunday Afternoon). It’s been a loooong time since I’ve gone running – the last time was way back on March 17 (with Chris, folk album photographer extraordinaire, at Porn Star Park).  So on Sunday, I laced up my shoes, grabbed my iPod, and hit the streets.  I set out without any goals, as far as route, distance, or time were concerned – I just decided to go for as long as I could, and since it’s been about three weeks since I’ve gone running, I didn’t have huge expectations, either.

So how did I do?  Not too shabby at all.  I ran for 47 minutes, and went 4.5 miles.  Here’s the route I ended up taking:

Wanna know how many fast food restaurants I passed along the way?  Ten.  Del Taco, Subway, KFC, Carl’s Jr., Taco Bell, another Subway, Burger King, McDonalds, El Pollo Loco, and Jack in the Box.  I’ve eaten at every single one of them, too, back when I used to eat fast food (I still eat Subway every once in a while).

Time to update my running chart:

  • 9/21/10: Distance: 3.1 miles.  Time: 41 minutes.  MPH: 4.53
  • 9/27/10: Distance: 3.3 miles.  Time: 45 minutes.  MPH: 4.4
  • 10/5/10: Distance: 3.2 miles.  Time: 40 minutes.  MPH: 4.8
  • 10/12/10: Distance: 3.8 miles.  Forgot to note time and MPH
  • 10/16/10: Distance: 2.9 miles.  Forgot to note time and MPH
  • 11/1/10: Distance: 3.1 miles.  Time: 36 minutes.  MPH: 5.16
  • 11/6/10: Distance: 5.1 miles. Time: 60 minutes.  MPH: 5.1
  • 11/14/10: Distance: 3.9 miles. Time: 45 minutes.  MPH: 5.2
  • 11/28/10: Distance: 4.2 miles. Time: 46 minutes.  MPH: 5.47
  • 1/4/11: Distance: 3.0 miles. Time: 34 minutes.  MPH: 5.3
  • 1/24/11: Distance: 4.4 miles.  Time: 45 minutes.  MPH: 5.86
  • 2/1/11: Distance: 1.9 miles.  Time: 20 minutes.  MPH: 5.7
  • 2/9/11: Distance: 3.5 miles.  Time: 38 minutes.  MPH: 5.52
  • 2/16/11: Distance: 2.9 miles.  Time: 33 minutes.  MPH: 5.28
  • 2/27/11: Distance: 5 miles.  Time: 60 minutes.  MPH: 5.0
  • 3/3/11: Distance: 5.4 miles.  Time: 57 minutes.  MPH: 5.13
  • 3/10/11: Distance: 3.0 miles.  Time: 34 minutes.  MPH: 5.29
  • 3/17/11: Distance: ? Time: ? MPH: ? (I forgot to note everything.  Oops!)
  • 4/10/11:  Distance: 4.5 miles.  Time: 47 minutes.  MPH: 5.74

Hello, Speedy Gonzalez!  That’s my second-fastest pace ever! Wowsa – wasn’t expecting that!

4) Gym (Monday Evening). After work, I headed to the gym, where I did 35 minutes on the Arc Trainer, and 13.5 minutes on the StairMaster.  Like last time, I tried to do as much of it (excluding some warm-up and cool-down time) doing 2 steps at a time, and this time, I also decided to push myself and see how fast I could go.  Normally I top out at Level 12 or so, but this time, I made it up to Level 14 (for about a minute).

The total numbers of floors I climbed was 70, so for today’s visual comparison, we’re going all the way to Yokohama, Japan.  The tallest building in Japan is located in Yokohama – it’s called Yokohama Landmark Tower – and whadya know? It has 70 floors!  Yep, I climbed the equivalent of this:

Between the Arc Trainer and the Stairmaster, I burned over 900 calories!

Keep it up, David!

Fruit Trees, Hike, Goodbye Shoes

January 25, 2011

I hung out with my friend Tavi this morning.  I’m totally envious of Tavi, for a couple reasons.  First of all, he has a super cool job: he’s an aerialist.  Yep, an acrobatic, ultra-flexible, death-defying performer.  You can catch him right now in a show called Cirque Berserk, playing in downtown Los Angeles – go here for info and tickets (act fast – it closes this weekend).  I’m also envious because Tavi has fruit trees in his backyard.  Two grapefruit trees and a tangerine tree.  Check out his fruit!

I totally wish I had fruit trees.  How fantastic would it be to wake up and think, ‘I want some juice this morning’ and then walk 15 feet and pluck some grapefruit off a tree!  Since Tavi has more tangerines and grapefruit than he knows what to do with, he let me help myself, which I did:

Tomorrow morning, I’m making some juice!

Tavi and I also went on a great hike this morning.  The last time I went hiking with Tavi, which is documented here, it involved a burned-out bridge, leaping over creeks, and coming across a naked old man.  Needless to say, hiking with Tavi is fun!  This morning we went to Fryman Canyon, a nearby trail in the Hollywood Hills.  I’ve been to Fryman before, on an early morning hike with my friends Jen and Tiffany.  I told Tavi this, and he says, “you’ve probably been on the main trail.  I go on a steeper, tougher, narrower trail.”  Yep, it’s fun already!

He was right.  His trail was tough.  I was out of breath at times.  It wound up and down through the hills, through canyons, alongside ridges, and through countless different types of terrain: lush tropical rain forest-lookin’ parts, sloping fields of 6-foot shrubs, rocky chasms with streams at the bottom…  and there were some great views, too!  Like this one:

There was also a fallen tree than we walked across:

And a random trapeze tied to a tree (why I’m the one holding it, and not Tavi the aerialist, is a good question):

Oh and did I mention Tavi got a great parking spot?

Near the end of the hike, we had to come down a steep ridge.  Tavi ran down it, full speed, but I was a wuss and negotiated it foot by foot:

It was on that descent that I decided to was time to say goodbye to the pair of shoes I was wearing.  They’re Under Armour shoes, and I loved them, but I wore them out, and they don’t have any traction anymore.  No good.  I bought them probably over a year ago, and wore them as gym shoes for three or four (or six) months.  When I got new gym shoes, I kept these around to wear occasionally: like when it was rainy outside, or when I went on hikes and there was the potential for lots of dust, dirt, or mud.  But just a few minutes before starting to write this post, I tossed them down the trash chute, into the dumpster.

Goodbye shoes, you served me well.

Oh, and that hike?  It was nearly two hours long.

Keep it up, David!

Early Morning Hike

September 21, 2010

Today is a new day, and I’m feeling much much better than I was last night.  And part of the reason is because I was up before dawn today for an early morning hike!  My friend Jen (the very same Jen who came with me to Magic Mountain) invited me to join her for her new exercise routine – hiking in the hills at 6:30am every day.  We arranged that I would be at her place at 6:15, which meant I had to wake up even earlier.

We picked up Tiffany, who’s been hiking with Jen every day, and who I enjoy hanging out with (more on Tiffany in future blogs, because she has a hobby that I’m very interested in…), and Tiffany brought along two friends of her own!

The poodle closer to me is Snuggles, and Dixie is the one that’s closer to the camera.  They’re super cute, even though Tiffany mentioned 8,000 times that she thought they needed a bath.  I disagreed.

Our hiking route was Fryman Canyon, which, despite probably being the closest hiking trail to my house, is one I’ve never been on before.  It was also all over the news last week, as police combed the park, on horseback, in helicopters, and on foot, searching for a murderer.  Don’t worry Mom – the murderer was never found (they think he made his way to Mexico), but we were with two apparently dirty attack miniature poodles just in case.  I scanned the faces of everyone we passed, just in case, because these helpful signs were still posted along the trail:

I was scanning tattoos left and right.

The hike itself was quite nice.  A steep incline at the beginning as you get up in the hills, and then a gradual upwards slope, then a gradual downhill slope (funny how that works out).  We passed a number of other walkers, runners, dogs, and bikers – and I thought I had a celebrity sighting: Carson Daly, whizzing by on his bike – but due to helmet and bike speed, I’m not completely certain it was him, although a Google Search for ‘Carson Daly Cycling’ brings up 39,500 results.

The best part about the hike was that I got home around 8:15am, and I got to go back to bed.  I could get used to unemployment.  Napping is fun, and a free activity.  I’ll leave you with one final picture – a view of the San Fernando Valley from up in the hills.  Apparently, there is quite a nice view from this particular trail, although not today, thanks to the fog smog fog.

Keep it up, David!