Sunday, April 29, 2007

Murder in Pasadena

Yesterday, a body was discovered near the Rose Bowl. The deceased male lay atop a hill off Rosemont Avenue. The hill is part of a trail popular with runners. I've been up and down it many times with Team in Training.

To the west of the trail, seperated by a chain link fence, lies Brookside Country Club. Apparantly some golfers observed the body through the fence at around 7:00 AM. They called out to passing runners, asking if any of them had cell phones and could notify police. (Did the idea of not golfing and reporting the crime occur to them? One can only speculate. As I said, they were golfers.)

In any case, two walkers from Team in Training arrived shortly after, saw the body, and notified coaches Kate and Mel. Meanwhile, police arrived and sealed off the area, closing the trail. Runners and walkers were rerouted throughout the morning. Around 10:45 AM, I came down Rosemont Avenue on my way to World T'ai Chi Day. Cops, crime scene tape, badly-parked police vehicles, and Allison from Team in Training spilled off the trail. (I didn't ask Allison "whaz s'up?" 'cause there was traffic behind me.)

Later, I heard coach Kate had spoken with one of the detectives. He told her nightly drug deals take place around the Rose Bowl. That's what the murder appeared to stem from. Violence is the Court of Last Appeal — and often First Appeal — in the narcotics trade.

No idea if the killer has been caught or even identified.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Fun in the CSUN

Ran a 10K today at Cal State University Northridge. After injuring my calf running last Monday (locked up tight), I spent the week either in the pool or doing yoga to loosen up the muscle. And while it's still not 100 %, I felt strong enough to give 6.2 miles a go.

Except I didn't want to run.

I didn't want to get up, or drive to Northridge, or run once I got there. Horn sounds and the race starts. Off I go anyway. I wanted to quit at the second mile. Then I wanted to walk for long periods. Then I wanted to quit at mile 5. Yes, it was sunny and hot and the course teemed with race-etiquette challenged "Kids Run L.A." But I've been there/done that before and bounded along like a young deer. Today was different. A most unusal attack of the "quits."

Maybe 10Ks remind me too much of tempo workouts — hard, long mid-week runs at a faster-than-usual pace. They build endurance. And grumpiness.

Despite all that, I set a 10K pr of 52.56. That comes out to an 8:32 pace.

Afterwards, I drove to Brookside Park near the Rose Bowl for World Tai Chi Day. This is a yearly gathering of L.A. County T'ai Chi players and Chinese yoga practioners. Marjorie was there. We hugged good-bye again. She drives to Texas this Friday. I hung out with old chums Loren, Ed, Iren, Dave and Dede from my T'ai Chi class. Then I bought a tee-shirt and left.

Acres of writing, but it'll keep.

I don't want to do that either.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

TNT, Car Buying, Paris

Bumped into Raul, Audrey and other TNT alum running the hills this morning. Ernesto and I met earlier than usual as my wife and I were due to car-shop.

We're looking at the Toyota Matrix and the Honda Civic. We checked out a fleet dealer, a used car dealer and Carmax. Very low pressure. Only the used car guy suggested we "talk with his manager." We declined citing multiple other car-buying commitments. I'm leaning toward a slightly used Civic: well-engineered and "tall-guy" friendly. But the car is for my short wife, so I may have to get used to something else.

Two folks I know ran the Paris Marathon today. You sprint past famous monuments, stop to have a smoke, race around Moslem "youths" burning cars, then pause on the banks of the Seine to read depressing literature. If you don't kill yourself, you pass a wine station, grab a paper cup of chablis, then cross the finish line where you either receive a medal or a beret full of snails.

In any case, I'll be interested in hearing their stories.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Marjorie Jackson Adieu

Monday nights are busy. I have several long-standing commitments that absorb the evening. Nevertheless, yesterday I made time to drive to a small park in Burbank and bid farewell to my T'ai Chi teacher.

I've known Marjorie for almost ten years. First intermittently, then steadily I attended her classes in T'ai Chi and yoga. Marjorie taught in parks from the San Gabriel Valley to Northridge. She flew from one gig to another. The rear compartment of her little blue Toyota SUV was crammed with registers and sign-up sheets, flyers for martial arts events, T'ai Chi swords and knives plus a CD player that gave every class a New Age underscore: Inca flutes, harps or Tibetean bowls with a crashing surf background.

For awhile, I was underemployed and immersed myself in T'ai Chi and yoga. On Thursdays in 2001 and 2002, I took Marjorie's morning yoga class at Victory Park in Pasadena. Afterwards, I'd student teach her T'ai Chi beginners, then attend the advanced class that followed. As a reward for helping out, Marjorie would show me next-level moves and correct my form. By the time I left around noon, I was floating on endorphins. Calm. Almost too calm. I never got much of anything done on Thursdays.

Chakras, auras, and past lives were a part of Marjorie's beliefs. She would laugh and call it "wo-wo" stuff. And if you were so inclinded, Majorie would teach "wo-wo" (as well as yoga) out of her rented home. Four years ago Marjorie and her beau bought a small house in Pasadena. Wind chimes and Buddhist prayer flags decorated the front porch while incense flotated through the house like spirits. A student painted a cloudy, blue sky on her ceiling so that while doing yoga, you could look up and see something other than ceiling.

That house is in escrow, the cloudy ceiling painted over. And by the end of the month, Marjorie and her beau will be in Texas. After 31 years in Southern California, Marjorie will teach T'ai Chi and yoga as well as quality "wo-wo" to the residents of Austin.

I didn't ask why she was leaving. I guess that's because I always sensed she would. Marjorie says we each have our destinies. Mine now lies in marathons and hers in Austin. But for a time, we walked the same path.

A teacher is someone who shows you a door that only you can open. And for showing me the T'ai Chi door, I want to thank Marjorie and wish her a safe journey, a rewarding life, and, in time, a destiny fulfilled.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Happy Easter!

Away to visit my darling wife's family somewhere in Central California. We'll be having Easter dinner by the sea. Back soon!


A misty moist morning with a temperature around 58 degrees. Rather perfect weather for running 10 miles. Ernesto added a new injury this week: a stiff back from weight lifting. Nevertheless, he put in eight miles.

I ran for a bit with a 59-year-old-guy who did the Chicago Marathon last year. He'd qualified for Boston, which meant a time of at least 3 hours and 45 minutes. Certain sports have their Meccas, that place where the amateur athelete can strive to reach and where, having arrived, are entitled to feel special, even smug, (but not too smug or someone will slap them). For distance runners, Boston is such a destination. You must complete a qualifying marathon just to get in. I hope to reach there within the next two years.

Perhaps there is also a Mecca for curling. Why shouldn't there be? Let a curler's reach exceed his grasp, broom and all.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Spring Fall

In honor of last year's big fat injury, I took my spring tumble on Monday. Melissa and I were running a good pace on trails when I hit a rock. This time my palms absorbed most of the impact. A bit bloody, I walked for awhile then we finished the run.

Turned out to be our fastest time yet.

Come Saturday a year will have passed since my broken foot. I was so bummed to miss the San Diego Marathon. That's why Phoenix still resonates. Down, but up again. Somewhat in keeping with the season.

A blessed Good Friday to those awaiting Easter.