Monday, February 14, 2011

Yet another busy week, for a change...

First, a lot of running with 97.8 miles since Jed Smith last Saturday. Quite a good recovery week, isn't? As a matter of fact, I was joking with Bob at the track on Tuesday morning: "Now that I have ran more than 50 ultra races, nobody really cares at work or in the family. I need to find bigger challenges..." Some people ask how I do to remain free of injuries and my first response is that you have to not only vary your types of workouts, but also rotate shoes throughout the week. Some people think that it means buying and using several pairs of the same model, but that's not what I would call rotation. For instance, this week, I ran in 5 different models (albeit all Brooks of course): my new Launch on Sunday, the Ghost 2 on Monday, Racer ST4 on Tuesday, the Launch again on Wednesday and Thursday, the cool Green Silence on Friday, my old Cascadia 3 for 35 miles on the trail on Saturday and the Ghost again for more hilly road running this Sunday.
And, yes, I have other models to chose from (the Launch is my 28th pair of Brooks)!
That's one of the reasons I keep track of each particular model I use in my running log, so I know how many miles each pair have been through. I know, I should be able to tell just by the feelings, but I'm not expert enough for that, or too much of an engineer...

Back to the running, we had an exceptional good weather all week and it really makes it easy to go out in such conditions. We expect bad weather to come to the Bay Area this week but, in the meantime, the Spring has arrived in our Valley of Heart's Delights and flowers and trees are blooming.
Speaking of Valley of Heart's Delights, the week would have been perfect if not for the environmental disaster, right in Cupertino. If you missed my last post, the hearing at the Board of Supervisors of our Santa Clara County was supposed to last for one hour. Not only it started late but went on for 4 hours. Certainly the matter was critical and worth at least 4 hours. I thought the Board was really looking at the issue seriously until the meeting wrapped up in the most unexpected manner, with a last minute motion submitted by Supervisor Liz Kniss who had evidently no intention to let her fellow Supervisors sneak in the special relationship she entertains with the Lehigh Permanente cement plant in her district.
To the Board's defense or credit, it is true that the public missed the point. The decision was about the use of the land and potentially removing another hill from our foothills, not about the pollution caused by the related cement plant itself, although this pollution is indeed an outrage to the people of Silicon Valley. As a consequence I heard one of the Supervisors say: "well, I didn't hear any complaint from the public about the mining activities, so it doesn't seem to be an issue." With that profound mismatch, I'm not sure who supervises what? I thought it was the role of the Supervisors to be on top of things, not the aggregated public.
Anyway, since Tuesday when I had to spend 5 hours standing because Lehigh had used its 150 employees to fill in the entire auditorium so we were denied entrance to the room, I can't stop thinking how bad this story is for the protection of our environment, and what a chance the County has missed to step up in favor of sustainable development. Out of the 60 or more testimonies in favor of Lehigh, it was all about "we have mined these foothills for 3 generations so there is really no reason to stop" and, "yes, it was the intent of our visionary founder, Mr. Henry Kaiser to mine the whole area, so leave us alone" or, from a 42-year employee "I am in good health so this is a proof that the plant doesn't represent any danger." This is the point with sustainable development, it requires that we change some of the past behaviors, and get smarter.

So, what was a stake on Tuesday? Basically the right to use the remainder of the grounds that Henry Kaiser had purchased without a mining permit, 70 years ago, to now dig a second "pit". Or, rather, scoop another of the Cupertino foothills! Look at the red ellipse below and imagine this hill replaced by the same scar than the current pit above. And if you think that the Stevens Creek Reservoir is big, look twice on the right of the current pit, how small it actually is in comparison. We are not talking about small impact here... (click on the picture for a full screen view)
Here are additional readings about this major issue:
  1. Committee for Green Foothills: a good coverage of the issue which was already threatening in 2004 and only worsen since;
  2. An article about the nearby Permanente Creek which shows Henry Kaiser. From his living in a cabin in the woods, I think it is pretty clear that his so-called "vision" was not to denature the area which is fortunately almost all protected except for this huge scar in the Peninsula;
  3. The NoToxicAir organization which, with very limited means, hold the charge during the public hearing;
  4. The 1st Mercury News article after the hearing;
  5. A follow-up Mercury News article on Friday (what I like, sort of, about the proponent of the plant is that they evidently recognize the noxious impact of the plant since their advice is that Cupertino residents were just too stupid to buy a house in the neighborhood! At least we all agree on the environmental issue. So, what do we do? We displace entire cities like they do in China when the soil and air are so spoiled?!);
  6. The AD-HOC website, a public interest group fighting pollution in the Western part of Silicon Valley;
  7. The perspective of the other neighbor community, Los Altos Hills;
  8. The connection between the site and the suicide of a German billionaire, Adolfe Merckle, who had acquired Hanson, the owner of the cement plant.
Again, the week would have been perfect if the matter would have gotten a better issue, there will for sure be other debates about the lack of vision and responsibility of such decision. At least, the Lehigh officials recognized that the plant was indeed producing 20 times the maximum amount of mercury authorized by the EPA (Environment Protection Agency). They also pledged to reduce the pollution by 95% at some point, yet recognized that ir was very challenging given the high concentration of mercury in the extracted rock. Maybe something Henry Kaiser had not "envisioned..." The most ironical news of the rest of the week was when Republicans were said that, since ir was too difficult to comprehend the immensity of the budget of the Department of Defense, they would simply start with eliminating the 40-year EPA! How convenient would that be for Lehigh, wouldn't it?!!
My Picasa photo album of this week combines pictures from our group run on Saturday, which ended up to be 35 miles. And a few pictures from Montebello Road and Peacock Court of Lehigh's quarry. I am so thankful that most of the Peninsula foothills are now protected, thanks in particular to POST (Peninsula Open Space Trust). Almost all but one, worth the fight...


    Anonymous said...

    Difficile combat, apparemment!

    Toshi Moshi said...

    Thanks for bringing out the environmental issues with the cement plant. It seems to be the hot topic of the valley now - although I found Fisher's column to be leaning on Lehigh's side. I've always wondered what the building on the hillside was ever since I moved to Cupertino in 1986. Hope to see you one of these days when I go to Rancho!

    BTW which shoes do you use for road races?

    Unknown said...

    Thanks for the insights on the shoes...I agree this is important. I am now looking at expanding my inventory for more specialty shoes... now I just run everything in my Nike Frees.

    Anonymous said...

    Hi, do you by any chance know if the Homestead track is open for public use now? Thanks.

    Anonymous said...

    also do you know if homestead's track is 400 m or 440y?

    Michael said...

    Hi Jean, nice job yesterday in the snow. I hope you managed to stay on course after you took off down the Saratoga Gap trail.

    You can find the picture I snapped of you (very poor quality unfortunately) here:

    Jean Pommier said...

    Toshi, my favorite shoe for road racing is the Racer ST. But I'll soon try the T7 Racer for short distances.

    See you at Rancho then, although not in these shoes... ;-)

    Jean Pommier said...

    Anonymous (??),
    I tried to go back to Homestead but they have basically fenced the whole campus. Unfortunately, I think we'll have to escalate the situation either to the FUHS District or to the City representatives.
    In the meantime, I'm going to Mountain View High School which has fenced the campus to keep the track outside and open to the public.

    PS: as a consequence of not being able to access it, I have not idea about the distance of the track.