Thursday, March 26, 2015

San Diego running

Boy, there sure are a lot of runners in San Diego! I just got back from a few days down there, and it seemed like there were runners in the morning, mid-day, early evening, and even night time.

We arrived on Sunday and were staying right near Balboa Park, near the Hillcrest Area. The place we were staying at had a small gym on the top floor, with reasonable hours (closing time at 10 p.m.). However, due to the need to do some grocery shopping so that we'd have breakfast the next morning, I wasn't free to go running that night until 9:40 or so. I asked the front desk how stringent they were about the hours, and the clerk said they locked down the elevator at 10 p.m. (I discovered later that you can take the stairs there, and I don't think they were all that strict. Oh well.)

This is, of course, San Diego, which has about the best weather imaginable in the continental United States, so I headed outdoors. I think much of San Diego is pretty safe, but when you aren't familiar with a location, nighttime can often bring a sense of unease. I headed over toward the part of Hillcrest that was still happening at night - restaurants, night clubs, and strip clubs. I got in a decent 4 miles at an easy pace before calling it a night.

Me, on the deck of an aircraft carrier
I should have gotten up early the next day (Monday) to go running, but hey, I was on vacation, so I slept in. During the day, we toured the U.S.S. Midway museum. I've been on a decommissioned battleship before (the U.S.S. Missouri), but never an aircraft carrier, so this was a pretty neat experience. I did find myself wondering, "if the seas were calm, did any sailors go running laps on the flattop deck?" Of course, when the ship was on active duty, there were no fences along the edges, so perhaps lap running was not recommended.

We weren't staying near the San Diego harbor, which was too bad, because it looked like it was an awesome place to go running. In the picture below, you can see the Midway to the right, the parking lot for the Fish Market to the left, and in the center (in the distance), the U.S.S. Ronald Reagan.

San Diego Harbor at sunset (photo by me)
That night, I headed up to the gym and ran 9 miles on the treadmill before the gym closed. Rather, I stopped when I thought the gym would close, but I think I could've stayed longer. Anyway, why didn't I run outside? Mostly because I wanted to watch some "24" .... (darn TV addiction)

We went to the San Diego Zoo the next day. As I mentioned, we were staying near Balboa Park, but the zoo entrance was way on the other side of the park, and some of the extended family members would've had trouble walking there and back, so we drove.

Ah, the life of a panda bear....
Do lions mind being in a cage, if they're fed constantly?
I seem to be obsessed about running, because I was thinking that the zoo would be a great place for a 5K race. A bit hilly, to be sure, but with wide walkways. Then my wife pointed out that it would be incredibly disruptive to the animals ....

According to the pedometer app on my smartphone, we had walked about 4 miles at the zoo. That was a pretty good warm-up, but it certainly didn't satisfy my running addiction. With some free time available to me in the late afternoon, I went running through Balboa Park, including back to the zoo! One of the main attractions to the route was going across the Cabrillo Bridge - grassy park on one side, and lots of museums on the other side:

The Cabrillo Bridge connecting the two sides of Balboa Park
This too ended up being a relatively short run, just 4 miles, because of the need to have enough time to clean up before dinner.

It was appealing enough that the next morning, I ran through the park again. Now, it turns out that the primary landing path for airplanes headed to the San Diego airport goes right over the southwestern edge of Balboa Park. I happened to be in that part of the park when a jet roared overhead on its descent. I should've taken a picture!

I got in 5 miles at a cruising pace by circumscribing the park, and topped off the trip with a short workout in the gym that night (the last one).

Ah, San Diego. Neither Los Angeles nor San Francisco/Berkeley hold much appeal to me these days, but San Diego still does; if only California weren't so expensive....

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Amazon renews "Bosch" for a second season

Titus Welliver (as Harry Bosch), with Jamie Hector (as Jerry Edgar)
Good news, Amazon has renewed the serialized crime drama "Bosch" for a second season. I gave my thoughts on season 1 a few weeks ago after binge-watching the 10 episodes over a week. According the L.A. Times:
The second season, which could start streaming in early 2016, will draw primarily from Connelly's novel "Trunk Music." The season will also include elements of "The Last Coyote" and "The Drop."
Season 1 also drew from three novels, although it used only a part of the third one ("The Concrete Blonde") and otherwise melded together two.

I'm not surprised that "The Last Coyote" will be included in season 2. One of the penultimate scenes in season 1 was taken from the beginning of that book, and "The Last Coyote" storyline follows naturally from the end of the first season, when [SPOILER!!!!!]

Thursday, March 5, 2015

40-something doesn't seem so old now ...

Vertical Run, which was published 20 years ago, is a terrific thriller, kind of like "Die Hard" with a protagonist trapped in an office building with a bunch of trained killers, but with a much different plot and mystery. I first read it when it was a selection of the Book of the Month Club in 1995; it was one of three thrillers I chose as the opening selection, along with David Baldacci's Absolute Power and a third one that I don't recall now.

Anyway, I just re-read Vertical Run, and it was as much of a thrill-ride as I remember, so I highly recommend it to anyone who likes fast-paced, kinetic action books.

But what struck me on the re-read was how back in 1995, I had thought smugly that, at age 47, the main character (David Elliot) seemed kind of old to be doing all kinds of action-packed running and fighting. 47 seemed so far away ...

Fast forward to now, when I'm ... 47. It doesn't seem old at all. Obviously, I don't have the Special Forces background that David Elliot did, which you can imagine comes in handy in the novel, but in terms of running around and doing physical stuff, I'm better now than I was 20 years ago. I suppose this shouldn't be surprising, with recent research reinforcing the life benefits of vigorous exercise. But it's also a good reminder to me about trying to avoid the smugness of being younger now than whatever age I'm going to be down the road.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Review of Amazon's "Bosch"

Image result for bosch tv show

I've read every single "Harry Bosch" novel by Michael Connelly, and I've met him several times at book signings back when he and I both lived in Los Angeles, and he would always stop by the Mysterious Bookstore on the west side. Connelly used to be a crime reporter with the L.A. Times, and it shows in his novels, which are chock full of police procedural details.

A year ago, when Amazon unveiled its second slate of potential TV shows for viewer responses, I eagerly watched the "Bosch" pilot starring Titus Welliver (the Man in Black in "Lost") in the title role. I wouldn't have thought of Welliver as Bosch, but the trailer clips that I saw sold me almost instantly.