Status and Saya, Monday, February 19, 2018

First, a status update…

Monday morning at Steelhead Coffee. It is now 9:17. I have been here since about 7:30. Had my usual cortado and side of bacon, along with a nice chat with first Veeseuth, and then we were joined by Drew and Patty, who were on their way to their workplaces and had palmed their kids (school holiday) off on Patty’s sister for the morning.

Did a little bit of organizing and planning before being distracted again by a very nice couple of couples, one local and one visiting from Pasadena. Shared some information with them about trails in the Mount Wilson and Portuguese Bend area.


Kite surfers or parasailers? The latter.

About that Portuguese Bend area, that was where I headed yesterday (Sunday) for my hill workout. The past week has been a bit of a roller coaster in terms of affect regarding my readiness (or lack thereof) for my inaugural ultramarathon, which is now just about two months away. There have been a couple of occasions where I was really starting feel light on my feet, marking my peaks, and others when those feet wouldn’t feel so well. Going into Sunday my afternoon walks had been kind of disappointing on Friday and Saturday.


Or as Kerry Winston Ward put it, “obviously an invitation.”

I was a bit down about that, and then I did recall that Mary-Morgan had put me through 90 minutes of triple stepping prior to my Friday walk, and Saturday’s ballet class had involved a whole lot of jumping. Both of those exercises were both very good for my feet, but also very taxing.

Sunday’s workout went well. I started at the gate at the end of Forrestal Drive (closed when I got there) and went up the Pirate’s Trail (aka, Quarry Trail?), a real killer that takes one from 455 ft to 820 ft in just three-tenths of a mile. No running there, but a great warm-up and more than a little bit of a heart-breaker.


I could run this for days. Not yet, but soon. A nice, easy path and you feel like you are flying.

Once I got over the hump the trail flattened out quite a bit, and the next 0.8 miles (to the Flying Mane Trail and down to the Fossil Trail) featured very mild grades and shaded running. It was just the kind of terrain I need to be accustomed to running, and I was able to comfortably run all of it. The next half mile or so down to the canyon bottom was more challenging, but I was still able to maintain a better pace than usual.

For the most part I took the wide, road-grade routes up to the junction of Crenshaw and the Peacock Flats Trail running some of the more forgiving uphill sections. Did a little bit of running on the return trip on the flatter sections, but stopped the downhill running when I started pounding the ground.

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Made it back to my car still in pretty good shape. My moleskin patch had held up like a star through the entire hike, and indeed until the next morning. I had completed a proper trudge: 6.5 miles with just over a 1000 feet of elevation gain. I did it in just over 2 hours. Multiply by 5 and that becomes 32.5 miles in somewhat more than “just over” ten hours. Closer to my goal (31 miles in under 10 hours) with plenty of room for improvement!

… and now for some Saya

Now for something completely different. On Saturday night I got to see my friend Saya Novinger perform at her own showcase at Bar Lubitsch. Saya is very high up on my list of “Amazing Young Women I Have the Privilege of Knowing”. She has an amazing background. By birth she is half Native American and half white colonist. She was adopted as an infant by a couple. Her adopted mother is Japanese, and her adopted father was a US diplomat. She lived in 8 different countries (from Paraguay, where her first language was Spanish, to her last and dearest love, Syria) by the time she was 20.


With Saya above Santa Ynez Canyon

Saya also has an amazing array of talents. She is adept with languages, and currently earns her keep by guiding tours for Japanese tourists–in Japanese. She is also a skilled and fearless rock climber who has her sights set on El Capitan. Saya is a strong and committed activist who made a pilgrimage to Standing Rock in December 2016 to deliver supplies and stand with the Water Protectors. I seem to recall that she has competitive swimming chops as well, but the details are hazy.

Missus Jones

Channeling Amy

Saya is an aspiring singer/songwriter. I had seen her a couple of years ago channeling Amy Winehouse with the cover band Missus Jones and was very much impressed with her performance.

I had the pleasure of hiking in Santa Ynez Canyon with Saya back in November, and at that time she was very excited that she finally felt ready to showcase her solo singing and her own songs. She was scheduled to perform on 11/25 at Bar Lubitsch, and I planned on attending.


I was getting ready to leave that evening when I got a text from Saya telling me that she was going to have to cancel the show because of a family emergency. Over the next several days the story emerged–her father and her step-mother had been swimming in a river near Hilo in Hawaii and were swept over Rainbow Falls. Both perished, and Saya was devastated. She had been very close to her dad, and for the past couple of months her healing process has been mirrored by her social media posts.

Saya and Dad

Young Saya with her father

Saya finally felt ready enough to reschedule her showcase for Saturday, 2/17/2018, again at Bar Lubitsch. Of course she came down with a persistent bad cold a couple of weeks beforehand, but she pushed on through and delivered a beautiful performance. Befitting her wide-ranging background Saya presented a very eclectic range of music, from the Appalachian ballads that she first fell in love with, through the bossa-nova (in Spanish) reflecting her South American residencies, and culminating in her own music.


On stage at last, cradling her newest love

Saya also displayed both versatility and artistry on her brand new Gretsch guitar, especially considering the range of styles she performed and the fact that she has only had it for a few weeks now.

Vocally, there were a couple of times when she had to pause to clear one of those aggravating frogs that can catch in one’s throat, but she pushed on through.  My personal favorite was her spellbinding rendition of one of her own compositions titled, very aptly, Phoenix. She apologized before playing Phoenix about her tendency to write sad songs, and said she wrote this song to counter that trend. It is a very powerful song and a spectacular showcase for her amazing (funny how that word keeps cropping up) vocal range. After worrying all week about hitting those high notes she delivered in the clutch!

This was a wonderful night, and I was amazingly happy to see that Saya has indeed risen from the ashes of her despair and is now ready to spread her wings like the phoenix that she is!

Bar Lubitsch 2

I would also be remiss if I did not give a shout out to the venue, Bar Lubitsch. If anyone did follow my blog, then they would know the high regard I have for good sound engineers. I believe that the responsible person was the energetic young lady in the white tee shirt who would dart in like a ninja to so very competently deal with sound and equipment. I don’t know if she is attached to the venue or a freelancer, but in either case the result was spectacular! The venue itself was very comfortable, parking was easy, and it is a great place for small showcases.

Status Update, Sunday, February 11, 2018

It’s a Sunday morning at Steelhead Coffee as I begin this post. It probably won’t be finished today, but who knows?. Stranger things have happened.

Just had my breakfast at Jongwaards Bake and Broil. They are my current Sunday breakfast spot, meeting my three big criteria: open by 7 am, pretty waitresses who know my name and order, and something I like to eat. An added benefit is that the portions are so incredibly large that I only eat half of my sausage, egg, and mushroom casserole and box up the rest for dinner.


Jongwaard’s breakfast… and dinner.

I have been keeping myself pretty busy. Last week I took one yoga class, four Pilates classes, three ballet classes (two of them Intermediate level), one Gyrotonic class, a private swing dance lesson with the lovely Mary Morgan-Childs, a rehearsal for a Dance4Oceans performance next month (learning a hip-hop routine set to Thriller), averaged 8.1 miles of walking per day, and rode 50+ miles on my bike. I also put in a hour of tutoring, covering for Ashley Elizabeth Allen while she cavorts on the stage in Malta.

I am making some changes to my routine. I enjoyed Ashley Shaw’s class when she subbed for Becky Tyo at Pilates X. I enjoyed it so much that I made the difficult choice to take Ashley’s 11 am class at PX instead of the 9:45 am yoga class at LA Fitness. No way that I could do both, especially since Thursday is a biking day and the locations are 5 miles apart. Sorry, Janelle:-( !


The two Ashley’s–Allen vamping it up in Malta, and Shaw catching a breath after teaching three classes…

The flu also intervened, first when we had a substitute for Vannia Ibarguen’s Intermediate class at Elevation Studios on Wednesday (Brooke did an outstanding job), and then when Maggie Grove had to cancel her Kundalini yoga class on Friday (very sad face emoji here). That was another difficult scheduling decision I had made last month as Maggie’s class conflicts with Vannia’s 10:30 adult ballet class at En Pointe.

The silver lining (or the lemonade made from the lemons) in Maggie’s cancellation was that a) Vannia had recovered enough from her flu to teach her ballet class (cancellation would have added insult to injury!) and b) the class was packed, so I found myself trapped in a small room with eight beautiful ballerinas :-)). I have been in worse situations.

Yesterday (Saturday) was a jam-packed day. I started out with an 8 am Gyrotonic session with Veeseuth at Orange County Gyrotonic in Huntington beach. Next was a short residency at Steelhead Coffee where I ate too much food (didn’t need the side of bacon), and then the short trip to Elevation Studios for Carri Burbank Glen’s beginning ballet class at 11:15. Went home ate lunch, had a short nap, and tried to learn the Dance4Oceans Thriller routine.


Trash Zombie Attack courtesy of Dance 4 Oceans Facebook page.

Then it was off to Lomita for my first rehearsal with Kanna Jones and the Dance4Oceans crew at 3:45. From their website, “Dance 4 Oceans performs for causes. We raise public awareness of problems on this beautiful planet, Earth.” They will be doing an event at the Point Vicente Interpretive Center on March 10 to increase awareness of the problem of plastic trash in the oceans. I will be part of a hip-hop trash zombie dance set to Michael Jackson’s Thriller.


The rehearsal was in a pretty cool space, an aerial center on PCH named Art Flying Aerial. Lot’s of aerial equipment in this place, and from looking at the space and at their website they look like a very interesting crew and worthy of further investigation.

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The Art Flying Aerial Team — Looks like a fun crew!

After rehearsal I changed clothes and made what seemed like an interminable drive up to Santa Monica. I stopped and ate too much Mexican food on the way (Tacos Por Favor), and then made my way to Apogee Studios where I saw a benefit performance by the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet on behalf of the Elemental Music program. Elemental Music is a non-profit organization that provides opportunities for children in Santa Monica to learn and perform ensemble music. The proceeds from the performance of the LAGQ provide funding for low-income students participating in the program. I got an invitation to this very limited event from my friends Kyo Yamashiro and Matt Hergert. Their daughter, Emi, attends Santa Monica Alternative Schoolhouse (SMASH) and is in the Elemental Band program.


Elemental Music at work — from their Facebook page

Well, it is now 9:45, and I did have a major distraction when I made a new friend. Melissa is a structural engineer in her eleventh year working for a large construction company downtown. She is relocating from Westchester, where she owns a house, to her fiance’s house in Long Beach. Melissa was in desperate need of a replacement for the coffee shop in Santa Monica that she used to drive to on weekends, and she has fallen under the spell of Steelhead Coffee. Mission accomplished! Melissa, by the way, is in the process of unlocking her super power as a calligrapher.

I am going to wrap this for now. I need to get in some hardcore training for my ultramarathon. There have been quantum improvements in my right ankle, and I am starting to feel stronger. I am, however, at a delicate stage where the muscles are getting strong enough that they provide a lot more stress on ligaments and tendons that are not accustomed to such loads. Last week’s 12.1 mile excursion up and down the Mount Wilson Toll Road was pretty taxing to those systems, but I did recover to the point where I was able to get in a 3 mile loop on Friday where I averaged 3.57 miles walking with just a tiny bit of (gasp) running mixed in.

I have actually started with a little bit of running on the ground under very limited circumstances with only very minimal inflammation. I will only be running on uphill stretches, in moderation, for the time being as I have found that to be both less taxing on my ankle AND incredibly effective at building strength. Can’t lose with a deal like that! My plan for today is to head over to the Palos Verdes Penninsula and do the trail from Sacred Cove up to Del Cerro park through the Portuguese Bend slide area, wearing trail running shoes and incorporating a little bit of uphill running.

It is now Monday morning, and I survived my excursion to Portuguese Bend. I couldn’t get down to the archery range where I had planned to begin, so I headed back to Ladera Linda park and started on the Forrestal Nature Reserve trails and connected with the Portuguese Bend Reserve trail system. I took the gentle route up to Del Cerro Park on Crenshaw and did some interval training on the uphill portions. I would run for two minutes and then walk until I got inspired to run again. All-in-all I probably ran about one mile out of the total six miles (with about 900 ft of ascent) that I did. I have a little bit of soreness in my right ankle this morning, but not out of line with what I normally feel.

All of the gods were aligned as I was then able to have the rare treat of meeting former bosses and colleagues Lynn Winters and Deborah Stark, along with Debbie’s man Steve, for dinner at Nelson’s in Terranea, where once again I ate way too much :-(. The burgers there are really pricey, but also really, really huge, and there is no redundancy in this sentence.