Friday, August 30, 2013

Weekly Log: 8.26.13 - 9.1.13

Monday - Ryan Park, North Kingstown, RI - 7.1 miles

Started off the week with an easy run at Ryan Park. Wore the super minimal MT00s as I'm considering them for a 5k up at Bryant in a few weeks.  The race is on mostly grass and I think these'll work well. Pretty standard Ryan Park run. Ran the trails/paths on the west side and then ran the stuff on the east side. Really tried to push the pace on the Root Run segment on Strava. I could feel my ankles wanting to roll on a couple of the roots in the MT00s - careful buddy. Managed to tie Jonny for 2nd on this dicey segment.  No bugs today and coolish. Fall is on its way.

Tuesday - 0 miles

P90X Legs & Back (60 minutes)

Wednesday - 0 miles

P90X2 Yoga X2 (65 minutes)

Thursday - North Smithfield track - 8.7 miles

Time to get back on the track! Upper legs are soooore from Legs & Back. Take a few weeks off from that one and you feel it. Nevertheless, I wanted to get some speedwork in today. Weather was ideal - overcast and just barely spitting. North Smithfield high track was deserted and my leg soreness faded after a few warm-up laps. I decided to try a ladder workout - 2 x200 / 2 x400 / 2 x600 / 2 x800 / 2 x600 / 2 x400 / 2 x200 with half the distance jog in between each (ex. 200m after the 400s, 300m after the 600s.)  Good workout, pretty brutal by the end. The second set of 600s was probably my least favorite. I probably should've worked out exactly what times I was going for instead of just working hard but I felt spent by the end so mission accomplished.

200s - 39 / 39
400s - 1:21 / 1:23
600s - 2:03 / 2:05
800s - 2:48 / 2:50
600s - 2:05 / 2:08
400s - 1:22 / 1:23
200s - 39 / 37

Friday - DuVal Trail, South Kingstown, RI - 6.3 miles

Ab Ripper X (15 minutes)

Off from work for the day and in the afternoon I got over to Perryville to put in some easy trail miles.  Not much to report - took a couple diggers and scratched up my knee pretty good.   Met a lone kid who was mountain biking out there.  The bike seemed huge for him.

Saturday - Grills Preserve, Westerly, RI - 12.3 miles

Wasn't sure where to run today but then Grills popped into my head and I thought, "yeah, that'll do."  Had a brief encounter with Muddy as I drove down towards the parking lot.  The only other time I was here was a few months back when he and Crutch gave me a tour of these various land trusts.  I repeated most of what we ran that day except I did it in reverse.

First I did trails south of the Pawcatuck.  Ran up the big hill and admired the lookout.  Crazy to think how close to the water and town I was but all I could see is trees.  I ran into a family with a big unleashed dog who ran straight at me while its owner assured me that "he's very friendly" and immediately thought of Jonny.  Stopped at that beautiful new bridge to eat my last RLRC and then took the very hillish trails up to a scenic vista.

Then it was time to take the white diamond trail into the nether reaches of Grills.  The sign at the beginning of the trail tells users that the Tommawhatsit bridge isn't finished yet and clearly that dissuades most people because this trail has seen very little traffic.  It's rooty, steep and I really enjoyed it.  But I knew that soon I'd reach the end of the trail.  Two options: Head back or try to bushwack through the marsh to the where the trails continued.

Muddy would be proud.  I made it across with only a few scratches and muddy shoes (though I did lose my right shoe in the last jump - had to pry it out of the muck.)   Then I ran the trails north of the Pawcatuck, passing a family of hikers several times as I went back and forth.  When I got to the lot I ran the roads back around to my car but decided to hop back on the trails for a couple more miles before wrapping up.  So my "long run" for the week was only 12 miles but it felt like a lot of work with the hills and the swamp traverse.

Sunday - 0 miles 


Weekly Mileage: 34.4 miles

Year to Date: 1,229.3 miles

202 miles for the month!  Happy to hit 200 for the first time but looking forward to getting back into racing over the next few weeks.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Beer Machine: Chinook IPA

A few weels ago I went over to my buddy Jay's house and he showed me the ropes as we went through the process of brewing a couple beers. Fat with knowledge, I wanted to see if I could replicate the process at home using some hops that Jay had given me. Since he gave me Chinook hops, I found an IPA recipe that used only that strain. I stopped at my new LHBS CraftBrew and picked up some grains and malt extract and when the opportunity presented itself, I went to work.

I wanted to make this batch as cheaply as possible so I used what I already had around the house. I used my canning pot as my brewpot since my online research indicated that many people go this route. The Beer Machine would once again serve as my fermenter since it already proved itself with its initial batch.  This means I'm not making a full 5 gallon batch. Rather it'll be 2.5 gallons. I like this because it's cheaper to only buy one jar of the liquid malt extract and the boiling/cooling times are much faster. Sorry for the crappy pictures - took 'em with my iPod.

Trusty brewpot

Muslin bag full o' grains

Warming up the malt syrup

Steeping them grains

Hop additions lined up and ready to roll

Boil achieved

Canning funnel made the transfer to Beer Machine much easier. Thermapen is great for digital temp readings.

Now cool that wort

Wort cooled - Beer Machine sanitized

Yeast!  Added the whole thing instead of half.  Whoops!

Once the yeast was dumped in, it went down into the beer cellar where the temperature holds at 70-71 degrees. Fermenation had begun by the evening and now the several days later it would seem that fermentation is wrapping up. After two weeks I plan on dry hopping directly in the Beer Machine. I've put the bottling attachment on the spigot which was missing from my last batch. When it comes time I can either bottle directly from the machine or rack to a bottling bucket.

24 hours later later and fermentation is in full effect!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Weekly Log: 8.19.13 - 8.25.13

Monday - Great Swamp, South Kingstown, RI - 7 miles

Ab Ripper X (15 minutes)

I had the day off and was planning on running at Rome Point in the morning. I brought Ezri to the Kingston bike path for a bit and it occurred to me that this would be the perfect opportunity to visit the Great Swamp as I had never been. After dropping her at daycare, I came back and took Liberty Rd down to the train tracks where it became a dirt road. I wasn't exactly sure where to go but I stopped at the DEM main office and a nice gentleman provided me with maps and local intel.

I kept following the dirt road until it ended at a big parking lot. The initial trails are actually dirt roads in various conditions. The power lines that cut through made for a good reference point. I took the trail that follows the main body of water (is it considered a pond?) I soon regretted taking neither sunglasses or sunscreen as the sun was blasting as I followed the edge of the water. Passed a bird watcher, complete with massive camera and spiffy hat. Despite the oppressive heat it was absolutely gorgeous out there and the water had plenty of plant and animal life to enjoy.

At the southern edge of the pond, I could see where the powerlines continued into my neck of the woods. If only I could reach these trails from Biscuit City road! (Several years ago I had tried. I followed the powerlines until it hit marsh. There, ramshackle wooden planks suggested that such a path once existed. However those planks were sparse and rotted and I had to retreat, cut from many briars and quite wet.)

I followed the trail into the appreciated shade and attempted to find my way down to Wordens Pond. However the trail was overgrown and soon became muddy and difficult to follow. I backtracked to more well travelled paths and spent the rest of the run retracing my steps and following the powerlines. Definitely an awesome place to run and I'll have to make a return visit (after the bugs are gone. The deer flies may be in retreat but they're still thriving here!)

Tuesday - 0 miles

Woke up feeling pretty meh so no workout for me today.

Wednesday - 0 miles

P90X Chest, Shoulders & Triceps (55 minutes)

Hard to believe it's been two months since I've done this workout. Time is a river that moves faster and faster. But I digress. Numbers weren't as high as the last time I attempted CS&T but I was feeling it pretty early into the video and I had noodle arms by the end. Mission accomplished I guess.

Thursday - Carter Preserve, Charlestown, RI - 7.5 miles

Good lord, extreme upper body soreness from yesterday's workout. I was home with a sick kid but I was able to get out for a run in the woods at the Carter Preserve. It had rained an hour beforehand and was super humid. Luckily no bugs whatsoever. Legs felt tired despite two days off so I just took it easy out there.

Friday - Smithfield, RI - 8.2 miles

Ab Ripper X (15 minutes)

I was going to do a track workout this morning but I wasn't in a good headspace and ended up just driving up to work on autopilot. Arrived in the parking lot and sort of decided to run the trails behind the office by default. No pop in my legs. After a couple miles on the usual trails, I came upon a new clearing - the trees in the area had been leveled. Found the trail through the debris and continued on but soon came upon huge construction road. I was bummed that some of my favorite trails were being completely destroyed so that some asshole could throw up some new houses. Discouraged, I took the quickest route out of the woods and hit the roads instead.

Thought my legs might wake up on the roads but they still felt dead. Took the Rocky Hill Road which is wide, peaceful and free of traffic. I passed the entrance where the culprits are ransacking the woods. Bastards. I took Rocky Hill most of the way and then jumped back in the woods in order to return to Fidelity. My left leg got jammed on a downhill tract and I smashed my big toe again - the one I bashed in my minimal shoes a few weeks ago. Sweet merciful crap it hurt. I was wearing my road staples, the NB 890 v2s but they did not offer much protection. The toe throbbed for a few minutes but the pain quickly faded once I started up again. Hopefully it's not a lasting problem. A gang of deerflies harassed me over the last two miles to put an exclamation mark on a lackluster run.

Saturday - Charlestown, RI - 5.4 miles

After two days of running with tired legs I wasn't sure if a short run today would even be worth it.  As soon as I started down the driveway though I felt great.   Ran down Old Coach to just past the newly finished Rathskeller (looks like their almost ready to open.)  Kept the pace snappy the whole way through and was very pleased with how I felt.  No issue with yesterday's smashed toe either.

Besides the run it was a good day all around:

Get ready for some habanero hot sauce!

A new batch of IPA is bubblin' away in the Beer Machine

 Oh and we got a dog.

His name's Oliver and he seems decent enough.  I'm not a dog guy and it took a lot for me to authorize this decision.  There will definitely be changes to all of our routines in order to accommodate this guy's needs but I'm hopeful that this addition will be good for our family.   Running with a dog?  The mind shudders.

Sunday - Burlingame, Charlestown, RI - 14 miles

I parked at King's Factory road in the morning and ran the full length of Sammy C's before heading into North Burlingame.  Haven't been here in a while and I enjoyed the wide rocky dirt roads.  I opted to take the North/South trail up to where it hit Burdickville Rd (hadn't travelled this section before.)  Then I turned around and headed down to the Pawcatuck River but there were campers at several of the sites so I kept going.  I continued along the trail with the white blazes but it became increasingly difficult to follow.  Clearly not used much and luckily it was very dry - I can imagine it being dreadful in rainy season.  At one point I had to stop and scout for the white blazes.  I found it but ran through a shitload of prickers and got a whole bunch of war wounds before escaping this section.

I headed south down to the Vin Gormley trail and decided to go down to North camp to add a few more miles.  More people bathing in the water at Watchaug so once again I kept moving.  The deer flies season is apparently not over yet because they harrassed me something awful for most of the rest of the run.  Took Schoolhouse trail back over to King's Factory and then followed the road back to the car.

Weekly Mileage: 42.1 miles

Year to Date: 1,194.9 miles

4 straight weeks of 40+ miles.  16 straight weeks of 30+ miles.  I need 32 miles over the next six days to hit 200 for the month for the first time.  Let's finish August strong.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Challenge from the Past

My first foray into running took place from 1991-1996 when I ran cross country and track for middle and high school in North Kingstown.  I had some natural talent but I never had the fire that a champion requires.  By my senior year I was consistently 3rd on our varsity CC team.  Looking back, I now realize that I could have achieved so much more had I worked harder.  No doubt this is something many of us reflect on - the squandered gifts of our youth.  Oh to return to those days and make good on our talents!  Sadly it is not to be.  Seth 1.0 is no more.

I am now Seth 2.0 - older, wiser (I s'pose) and with a luxurious beard that 1.0 could only dream of.  In almost every aspect of my running I have bested my younger doppleganger.  Seth 1.0 never ran more than 12 miles.  He competed only in the 5k distance (save one attempt at the Newport 10k in which he blew up.  He knew nothing of pacing for a race twice as long.)  And Seth 1.0 ran only what was required of him by his training and his coach.  There was little joy in his running.

Now I run because I love it. Because it makes me feel alive and lets me journey into the natural world and explore. And in doing so I've run farther than Seth 1.0 would ever have considered. 12 miles? Barely a long run for me now. 10k? I've run marathons and beyond.

Yet there is one record which Seth 1.0 still holds.  One feat bestowed by the gifts of youth which I have yet to match.  A 5k PR of 17:20.  In his penultimate high school race - he peaked.  During the State Meet at Bryant University he placed 17th overall and finished 1st for N.K.

Once I thought that this PR of my youth would never fall.  I was running 21 minute 5ks - I could not compete with 1.0 at such a short fast race.  The 5k was the realm of the young and virile.  Now I know that is not the case.  As I approach an 18 minute 5k, I see that this record too can fall.  It will take much hard work - harder than my younger self cared to work - but I believe I can snatch this last feather from the cap of Seth 1.0.   We shall see.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Weekly Log: 8.12.13 - 8.18.13

With this Friday off I think there's the possible of a big mileage week for me. Fifty miles? I'm also thinking that I have a chance to hit 200 miles for the month for the first time. We'll see how the week goes.

Monday - Fidelity trails, Smithfield, RI - 5.2 miles

Ab Ripper X (15 minutes)

My legs felt pretty tired to start the run - yesterday's Arcadia adventure had taken their toll. My plan was to try to get in 7 easy miles in the woods. I explored some of the new dirt bike singletrack I had recently discovered up here. Fun trails - I found yet another one which had some open rock sections that descended into a swampy area along a stone wall. My legs never really loosened up and I decided to just wrap it up after 5 miles. No point in pushing it on a Monday after several days of running.

Tuesday - 0 miles

P90X Back & Biceps (50 minutes)

Picked up a pair of 15 lb dumbbells off Craigslist over the weekend. I have 10 pounders and lower as well as a pair of adjustable weights but I find it cumbersome to attempt to change the weight during the workouts (pausing the video, etc.) The 15 pounders were the missing element I needed to jump up from the 10 pounds for a lot of the curls and such. As a result, this felt like a much harder workout - my attempts at pull-ups were pretty sad in comparison to past weeks but I'm chalking that up to my increased effort in the other exercises.

Good harvest of maters and Hungarian hot wax peppers

Wednesday - Tom McCoy Fun Run, Westerly, RI - 3.2 miles

P90X2 Yoga X2 (65 minutes)

I got out of work early and headed down to the fun run with Amanda and Ezri. It was the first one I've attended and I was looking forward to watching Ezri in the kid's race. She was pretty excited too...until we arrived at the parking lot and she began to get cold feet. We lined up with her and ran the first street but she was not into it and we bailed on the attempt. Maybe next time.

Then it was time to line up for the fun run proper and we were off. I didn't warm up and was worried about going out too fast but it's hard to reign it in when everyone takes off. Tommy 5k and a fast kid pulled away followed by another kid and then Jeff. Jeff and I passed the other kid after maybe 1.5 miles. 5k and the fast kid soon disappeared and I was able to keep Jeff in my sights for the rest of the run. Finished in 4th with a time of around 18:55. I'm very pleased with that considering no warm-up and I'm looking forward to running an official 5k soon and hopefully shaving some time of my PR.

Thursday - Smithfield, RI - 11 miles

Calves were a little tight from yesterday's hard effort at the fun run but otherwise no worse for wear. I had some extra time this morning and after internal debate decided to run some road/trails in Smithfield. Parked at Bryant and took the roads down to the Mowry Conservation Area in order to do a quick loop on the trails there. Then up the massive hill on Burlingame Rd in order to explore a new land trust area.

The Connors Farm Conservation Area seemed to have little land resembling a farm. Instead there were lots of granite formations and rocky paths. And hills. Considering my slog up Burlingame Road I probably should have expected them but the trails went up and down the same hill and made for tough climbs (I ended up hiking several of them.)

After exploring most of the trails in this cool little area, I came out on the other side on some new roads. I wasn't exactly sure where I was but I wasn't exactly unsure either. I had glanced at Google maps before heading out and eventually I hit the Stump Pond reservoir which I was familiar with. From here I ran around the pond back to Bryant and jumped onto the old cross country trail to head back up to campus. I saw a new trail and of course I had to jump on it to see where it went. It headed away from Bryant and I'm sure if I had kept following it then it would have linked up to some other trails I had explored a while back but it was getting late so I left it for another time.

When I got home I cracked open one of the Beer Machine bombers that I had put in the fridge yesterday. I heard the KRRSHHHH when I popped the cap - the priming sugar worked! It's better with the carbonation.  Reminds me of Narragansett.  Not too bad overall.

Carbonation success!

Friday - Big River Management Area, West Greenwich, RI - 20 miles

With the day off I originally considered driving up to the NipMuck trail to give the second half of the marathon a trial run.  But I balked at the 90 minute drive and decided instead to do a really long trail run closer to home - it would probably the longest I'd do prior to the NipMuck.  It was between Arcadia and Big River but I had just been to Arcadia and I really liked the idea of putting together a massive run in BR that encompassed both the east and west portions of the park.  I felt I finally had the knowledge of the trails to do it without getting completely lost.

I parked at the lot off Exit 6 and headed in.  I had my handheld in one hand and a small bottled water in the other.  I carried one of my red lentil rice cakes, a protein bar and gel.  I took the Pine trail first off of the main dirt road and then crossed over onto the Things that Go Bump in the Night.  Here my knowledge and sense of direction proved suspect because after going by Sweet Pond I got completely spun around and ended up back at the start of TTGBITN.  D'oh!  Everybody laugh at the BR noob.

I laughed it off and ran the trail again, encountering a masters group of mountain bikers near the end.  I made the same wrong turn again but luckily realized it after only a minute.  Turned around and of course the Sawmill Trail was right there in the other direction.  This little loop probably added 2.5 miles to the run but I was looking to run twenty so I guess it worked out in the end.

Took the Sawmill trail for a while before jumping off it and taking twisty turny singletrack up to the Lookout.  I tried to take the trails in reverse from my last visit there and it actually worked - made it to the Lookout no problem.  Someone recently stocked the mailbox with goodies and I helped myself to some oreos.  Have to remember to bring some treats up next time to pay it forward.

After my snack, I went back down more twisty stuff past the quarry and jumped on the BR Expressway and took it up to the Hopkins Hill parking lot.  From here it was the long loop around Carr Pond.  I was nine miles in and feeling good.  I knew a blister was brewing on my pinky but the sensation faded as the run went on.  Ran up to where we started the 1/2 marathon and then did some of the race's last twisty leg in reverse.  I came out near the sand dunes and cut through there, doing my best Chevy Chase impersonation.

Back into the woods for what I hoped was my last section of singletrack, I tried to find the Shoot the Moon trail which would take me up near the car.  Turns out I did end up on it but at an intersection I went left instead of right and ended up on the New London Expressway.  I took it back towards Sweet Pond and jumped on the Steeple Chase trail which led to Logs Trail and then back to the car.  After I got on Steeple Chase I was ready for the run to be over but my legs held up well throughout and I was pleased that I averaged just under a 9 minute pace for the whole run.  Overall a great run - made a couple wrong turns but in the end I executed most of what I set out to do.

Saturday - 0 miles

Sunday - Charlestown, RI - 11 miles

Ran some early morning miles on the local roads and beaches in order to hit 50 miles for the week.  It was quiet running amongst the beach cottages.  Can't believe how many rabbits there are in the Breachway/Green Hill neighborhoods.  Legs felt pretty tired after 42 miles over the last four days and I kept the pace very easy for the whole run.

Weekly Mileage: 50.4 miles! (PR)

Year to Date: 1,152.8 miles

I'm pleased to have hit 50 miles for the first time ever.  Definitely won't be repeating it next week but I plan on still keeping the mileage pretty high for the rest of August before dropping down a bit in anticipation of early September races.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Red Lentil Rice Cakes

My portables are running low so it's time for another concoction courtesy of Feed Zone Portables.  I wanted to make another rice cake recipe and after looking through the cupboards it looked like I had all the stuff for this one.

The main ingredients are sticky rice and red lentils.  We've also got minced onion and jalapeno, tomato paste, greek yogurt and paprika.

2 cups of sticky rice and 1 cup of lentils go into the rice cooker along with 4.5 cups of water.  This will take awhile folks.

While the rice/lentils cooks, the onions (1 tsb) and jalapeno (1.5 tsp) are sauteed.  1.5 tsb of tomato paste is added once they're cooked. 

Then we take the pan off heat and add 1/4 cup of greek yogurt.  Stir it all up and put it aside.

Ding!  Rice is finally done.  Sadly the lentils lose their beautiful red color in the cooking.

The recipe recommended a couple additional ingredients before we combine everything.  Fresh chopped parsley:

1 tsp of tabasco:

Mix it all together and then spread it out in a pan.

After it settles for a while, I divide them up and wrap them in tinfoil.  Into the freezer they go.

A little crumbly at first but the freezer will help with that.  Taste is good (the tabasco gives it a nice flavor.)  I added some salt after tasting the mixture but in retrospect it probably could have used a bit more.

Specs: 12 servings / Calories - 154 / Carb - 31 / Fat - 0 / Protein - 6

UPDATE: I actually made these a few weeks ago and have been eating them mostly after weekday morning runs. The tabasco taste has unfortunately faded and the resulting rice cake is a bland, mushy affair. Not the most delish creation. I will say that it went down a lot easier when I took one on my 19 miler a few weeks back. So I guess this one is best enjoyed when I'm many miles in and starving rather than post-run.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Weekly Log: 8.5.13 - 8.11.13

Monday - Wolf Hill, Smithfield, RI - 5.6 miles

I didn't get much sleep last night after a late gig at the Spot in Providence. Ab Ripper definitely wasn't happening this morning. I didn't have much spring in my step but I decided to hit up Wolf Hill. I ran along the water for the first mile to avoid any elevation gain which helped and I started to perk up a bit. Did a big loop of my usual trails but didn't push the distance as I was feeling pretty beat by the end. No flies to speak of.

On the plus side I got my WTAC Singlet today.  Now I'm bonafide!

Tuesday - 0 miles

SICK!  Woke up at midnight with a 102 fever and chills.  Started a regimen of ibuprofen which knocked down the fever / chills but they came back worse each time the pills wore off.  Doc put me on antibiotics for possible lyme disease.  Had some blood taken so we'll know soon if it's tick borne or not. After dinner I went to bed where I shook violently for 15 minutes before finally falling asleep. Woke up 30 minutes later with a 104 fever. I felt like a turd sandwich.

Wednesday - 0 miles

Wow. After sweating profusely through the night I woke up feeling better. Way better. Fever was gone. No more chills. Antibiotics for the win!

Thursday - Ryan Park, North Kingstown, RI - 7 miles

After a seemingly complete recovery from Tuesday's sickness, I wanted to get a nice easy run in. I chose Ryan Park since the trails aren't taxing and I could run in the MT00s. It was my first run in 'em since I smashed my toe in Burlingame but I figured this was the opportune place and pace to get back into them.

It was nice running weather - cloudy and drizzly. I only saw only one deer fly and it made its last mistake by landing on my arm. Looks like the miserable little bastards might be done for the year. The miles went quickly as my thoughts drifted to my younger days playing World of Warcraft. I reflected on the many hours spent in Duskwood and Strangelethorn Vale. Ah the good ol' days, long gone but not forgotten!

Anywho, the run was a bigtime success considering two days ago I felt like utter hell.  And the shoes felt great.  I was psyched that I plowed through 7 miles in 'em with no calf/ankle soreness.  Just gotta remember to only use 'em for non-technical terrain.

Friday - North Smithfield Track - 6.2 miles

A light steady rain began falling as I parked next to the Bryant track. That didn't bother me but the train of big tough college athletes heading over there spooked me and I opted to head back to the North Smithfield high school track down the road. Much better - the place was empty. I opted to run in my New Balance 730s - I've been transitioning into them very slowly over the past year but yesterday's run in the super minimal 00s encouraged me to try to use them for more than just piddling cooldowns.

I ran 6 x 400m w/ 200m jogs and 6 x 200m w/ 100m jogs.

400s - 87 / 81 / 80 / 81 / 80 / 80
200s - 45 / 37 / 33 / 37 / 42 / 37

I think the timing on some of the 200s is suspect. It's hard to judge when exactly to start/stop them, especially when then begin on the corner. These track workouts are also so mental - I'm constantly bargaining with myself in order to get through them (Halfway done already. Only one more to go now!) I was really pleased when I got through all the 200s and very happy with how the 730s felt. I'm ready to start wearing them on some road runs and shorter road races. Fun workout in the rain.

Saturday - Carter Preserve, Charlestown, RI - 6 miles

This was an easy afternoon run at Carter. I did the all the usual trails starting with the grassland loop (I discovered a short little woodland trail on the way to the loop.) It was pretty hot out there and kept the pace easy for the length of the run. Legs felt good.

Sunday - Arcadia Management Area, Exeter, RI - 16.1 miles

For this week's long run I wanted something I hadn't done in a while - Arcadia sounded perfect. I parked at the Hudson lot around 7 AM and made my way over to the Frosty Hollow pond, following trails up to Austin Farm Rd. I didn't really have a gameplan and decided to just head down Austin Farm for a bit. I passed a Road Closed sign which gave me pause and I soon found out why - the bridge was out just before the Shelter trail, which I had planned on taking.

This screwed up my plans as I wasn't familiar with trails to the south of my position. North was private campgrounds - I took a grass covered road up through them. I figured the road hugged the western boundary of the property and maybe I could pass through undetected. Instead I came upon an old basketball court and some creepy boarded up cabins. They gave me a Friday the 13th vibe and I retreated back to Austin Farm Rd.

I was wasting time and getting nowhere so I backtracked towards Breakheart Pond and made my way up to the Breakheart Trail which I took all the way to its end. I crossed the road and jumped on the Ben Utter trail. The river was moving well and at the end the Stepstone Falls seemed more lively than the last time I was here. Another runner with a hydration pack was following the North-South trail down the other side of the Falls. I wonder how far he was coming from?

I decided to check out some new stuff so I turned onto Falls River Road. This road was dirt but featured a monster hill all the way up to Escoheag Road. I followed Escoheag for a while and meant to jump back on to Austin Farm Rd but instead I got off too early and meandered down some part pavement/part dirt road for a while before finally rejoining the Ben Utter trail. Followed it back and then took Mt. Tom Trail down to Route 165. The last two miles of the run were on fresh asphalt - not as enjoyable as the 14 previous miles but I was ready to get back to the car and this was the easiest/fastest way.

Weekly Mileage: 40.9 miles

Year to Date: 1,102.4 miles

Another 40 mile week. I'm pretty happy about that especially considering my bout of sickness. It came on the two days I normally don't run anyway so it didn't actually interrupt my schedule at all. Fun runs in lots of different shoes.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Beer Machine: Technically Beer

Let us continue on the journey to beer independence. In my previous post, I had finally set up the fabled Beer Machine, cleaned it and added all the ingredients.

After 10 days, fermentation had ceased (as evident by the lack of bubbles appearing above the airlock.) At this point I decided to take a taste to see what we were working with - this is where the design of the BM with the spigot pays dividends. It's very easy to take samples of the brew to monitor its progress.

Beer Machine gets to hang out with the good stuff
Yup, it's beer. Not great beer by any means but it is indeed beer. Still, I wanted to leave it be for a while longer to ensure that fermentation was well and truly done. After battling to keep the temp under 75 degrees in the basement, it dawned on me to use the closet that contains our well water system. I didn't use it initially as my beer cellar is in there and I was concerned about the whole exploding thing.

Success! Temps in the closet maintaining at 73 degrees.

After a few more days, fermentation is now good and done. Ideally I would bottle at this point however I forgot to assemble the bottling component prior to starting and it cannot be attached once the Machine is full of beer. Sigh. The Beer Machine is actually designed to be stored in the fridge so that one can enjoy cold beer at their leisure directly from the tap. However it has been decreed that I cannot store this monstrosity in our fridge so I've placed it in a large cooler and have been using ice to keep it cool.

Since this is not a long term solution I was simply going to drink as much of the beer as fast as I could and then toss the rest.  After a couple sessions with the stuff I can honestly say - it's not that bad.  It is definitely beer.  Malty and not too much in the way of hops.  Not a lot of alcohol to it and easy to drink.  Overall I'm pretty impressed that I made it, even if I just dumped powder and water into a contraption.


I then realized that it would be silly to just dump perfectly serviceable beer so my buddy Jay lent me his bottling supplies and I went to work on Sunday to preserve the rest for later consumption.  Since I didn't have the bottling attachment I did a half-assed version of bottling from the spigot.  This adds more oxygen than is preferable but since I was going to dump this stuff anyway, I'm just going for it and treating this like an experiment.

Let's do this

I have been saving the 22oz bombers for years in the hope that I'd one day use them for brewing and now that day had arrived.  I mixed some priming sugar with water and added it to the Beer Machine prior to bottling (1oz of sugar since I estimated that about half of the half batch was already drunk.)  I gave it a mix with a sanitized spoon, being careful not to splash and expose the brew to oxygen.  Then I let it sit for 30 minutes to give the sediment time to settle at the bottom.  The C02 cartridges work well to help the beer flow from the spigot but they don't last long.  They give you three in the box and I finished the third during the 4th of 7 bottles.  The rest of the bottling process was time consuming as there was very little pressure.

There you go.  7 bombers of beer that'll go into the beer cellar to age for a couple weeks.  Hopefully they don't explode.   Afterwards I took the Beer Machine completely apart and rinsed it all out.

And now my thoughts turn to my next beer.  I've already brushed aside the idea of using another Beer Machine mixture - I want to try my hand at a real extract recipe.  Jay gave me some Chinook hops so I've already started looking for an easy IPA recipe.  Stay tuned!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Weekly Log: 7.29.13 - 8.4.13

And so July comes to and end. Can't believe it's almost over, makes me sad. But what a month - an awesome family vacation in New Hampshire to start things off, two great 10 mile races and my wife's second triathlon of the year. Farewell July, I shall remember you fondly.

Now it's time to look towards the fall races - the Surftown Half in mid-September and the NipMuck marathon in early October. I don't plan to race at all in August but rather focus on solid long trail runs. Hilly trail work will be a weekly staple and I really need to get back to some weekly speedwork. At some point in August I would really like to journey over to the NipMuck trail and tackle the last 14 miles of the marathon course as that's where the hills and pain reside.

Monday - Snake Den, Johnston, RI - 5.9 miles

Ab Ripper X (15 minutes)

I wanted to run some hills and since I haven't been there in a while I choose Snake Den - I knew the power lines would suffice. It had been so long that I was taken aback by the amount of vegetation along the trails. The connector trail was overgrown in parts but at least the water hazards were at a minimum. Deer flies were a 6 out of 10.

Tuesday - 0 miles

P90X Legs & Back (60 minutes)

Wednesday - 0 miles

P90X2 Yoga X2 (65 minutes)

I was looking forward to my second attempt at the P90X2 Yoga but I didn't have my head in the game and struggled throughout, especially on anything balance related. Glad I got through the whole thing though.

Thursday - Black Farm, Hopkinton, RI - 8 miles

I had an hour and a half to kill while Em was at dance class and planned on hitting up the Carolina Management Area. But we ended up getting to class late and due to extenuating circumstances, my gas tank was emptier than it had ever been. I've never run out of gas and was stressed about it so I ended up driving to Black Farm since it was very close.

I still had a good amount of time to run and ended up exploring more or less all the trails in the area. Some of the trails open up into fields which run fairly close to some nice houses. I wasn't sure if it was still Black Farm property but I explored them until I came upon "No Trespassing" signs. I also discovered a trail that basically ran all the way to the neighborhood near 95 - good to know. I took the railbed as far as I could before the brush got too thick. I wonder if I'd be able to explore further in the winter?

Friday - North Smithfield Track - 7 miles

Ab Ripper X (15 minutes)

I was determined to return to the track today even if meant running in the rain. Luckily the weather cleared up by the time I got to the track but there was a high school soccer team arriving as well. They seemed to stick to the field and I didn't want to chump out so I continued as planned. Muddy and Jonny's 6 x 800 sounded good to me so after a mile or so warm-up I gutted them out. I ran the first one on the fourth lane in order to give the soccer boys some space but after that I said screw it and ran on the inside lane - they were hard enough without the added distance.

Splits: 3:00 / 2:53 / 2:52 / 2:51 / 2:52 / 2:55

I cooled down on the roads in my NB 730s. Gotta remember to start using these more to get accustomed to them - they are so light and would be great for road races.

That evening my band Hip Bobsha rocked out the Ocean Mist opening for Badfish.  There was a big crowd and I think our set was well received.  Nice to play for a big audience.  Badfish put on a great show - they really do sound just like Sublime.

Hip Bobsha Setlist
Steppin'1, The Rope Climber > Pusherman2, Empire Blues, One Thing > Handshake Drugs3, Jiminy

1 Soulive cover / 2 Curtis Mayfield cover / 3 Wilco cover

Saturday - Charlestown, RI - 19.2 miles

After several Torpedos at the Ocean Mist, Amanda correctly gauged that I wouldn't be up for running early today.  Instead she suggested I run before we went to the Seafood Festival at Ninigret (Em's dance team was performing.)  I immediately hatched the idea of a point-to-point run incorporating both roads and trails.  Not quite what Amanda had in mind but she kindly put up with my crazy scheme.

I left our house around 3:40 PM and took Route 2 to the east Carter Preserve entrance.  I had already begun to feel a blister forming on my right pinky but shook it off and entered the woods.  I took the red and blue trails and found myself enjoying the run so much more now that I was off of the busy Route 2.  How people can run roads like that everyday I'll never know.  Stopped halfway to snack on my latest creation, a red lentil rice cake (write-up forthcoming.)  I finished the Preserve by doing the grassland loop clockwise (there's a segment there - I knew I wouldn't be dethrowing the speedy Chris G but figured I'd at least get my name on the board.)

Jumping on to King's Factory Road, I was still feeling good.  I had been nursing my water so as not to run out and luckily it was not too hot with plenty of shade.  I reached the Burlingame woods and took Sammy C's to VG and ran it counterclockwise to the campground.  Time was starting to become an issue but luckily it was mostly road the rest of the way and I was able to make good time over to Ninigret.  Actually I felt pretty great for running 19 miles and feel like it's an indication that I'm in really good shape.  Pinky toe never actually formed a blister which was a bonus.

I got to Ninigret right after Amanda, changed (I had put clothes in her car) and dug into the festival (free admission 'cause Em was dancing - score!)  Em did great and then we hit the foodway.  Beer and doughboys were most welcome.

Sunday - 0 miles

No miles today as yesterday's run was more than enough.  My inner thighs aren't sore per se but feel like they're always on the verge of cramping.  Spent the morning bottling beer and finishing the first chapter of the great Beer Machine saga (report forthcoming.)

Amanda ran Run 4 Kerri this morning and did great - 272/729 (including a 5k PR!)  She also won an afghan in the raffle which is pretty sweet.

Another gig tonight for Hip Bobsha.  Two gigs in one week - what is this? 2001?  This time we'll be at the Spot in Providence.  Probably a lot sparser crowd than the O-Mist but I'm looking forward to it.

Weekly Mileage: 40.5 miles

Year to Date: 1,061.5 miles

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Garden Shots: Revenge of the Wyrm

When the dehumidifier in the basement fills up, I empty it out back in the vegetable garden.  It's my half-assed way of watering the plants semi-regularly.  We're starting to get a decent amount of sun gold cherry tomatoes and I grabbed a few.

Sun Gold cherries and one Early Girl

But upon glancing at the plants, I noticed bare branch, completely stripped of leaves.  And then another.  And another.

Picked clean!

Too late I realized that my old foe had returned.   Not only that, they had recognized my lackadaisical gardening for what it was and gorged themselves on the lovely tomato plants in my absence.

Yes friends, it was the return of the dreaded hornworm!

There were many and they were BIG.   Now normally I don't like killing anything larger than one inch but these beasties leave me no choice.  They will ransack my plants in no time at all.  So I grabbed my killing instrument - my garden scissors.   My method has always been brutal but effective - I cut off their heads.  But the scissors were dull and their heads large - I ended up just cutting gashes in most of 'em.  Still did the trick but extra grisly.

They made a terrible clicking noise after I executed them - no doubt cursing me in their guttural language.

Even now, the morning after, I went out there and found that some of these mortal injuries were anything but.  Despite the massive gashes to their heasd, the wyrms continued to cling to life.

So beware the hornworm, dear reader.  If you see bare branches on your tomato plants, look closely - for hidden amongst the leaves lurks your doom.