Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Mews Tavern "Gear and Beer" 6.9k 2014

Official time: 26:10.  13th overall.  2nd in Age Group.  Results here.

This is a favorite local race of mine - my recreational runner friends attend, there's a crazy amount of beer included with your registration and it has a great atmosphere.  In years past it's been a standard 5k but this year apparently they had issues with the town and had to change the course.  Unlike last year's frigid conditions, the temp was in the 50s and conditions couldn't have been better.  But I was nervous going into this race - I had been battling my janky knee and had done nothing speedwise in months.  I knew I wouldn't be in top form but was hopeful that I could still keep the pace under 6 minutes/mile.

Pre-race photo with Crutchley - Photo by Easter Seals

There were fewer runners this year - the effects of last year's cold day and the longer distance perhaps.  There wasn't a huge group towing the line and when the gun went off Pelletier and the Colonel sped off ahead, leaving everyone in their wake.  The race starts up a hill which sucks and by the time it leveled off I found myself around 16th place.  A quick glance at the watch confirmed what I felt - my pace was around 6:15.  Slow compared to what I know I'd be capable at full health, but I was surprised how far up in the field I was.  Last year I finished 25th - it was looking like a lot of fast people sat this one out.

Photo by Easter Seals

Instead of heading down towards the Peacedale rotary, the new course heads up towards South Road, veering onto neighborhood streets along the way.  I traded places with a couple folks on these roads - I thought I was moving well on the slight hills but I was bummed that I couldn't muster anymore speed.  Luckily the janky knee didn't ache or give me any grief.

The long stretch on South Road was a bit of a slog and I was beginning to fatigue.  A couple guys I were hanging with began to put distance on me and I could hear the patter of someone else gaining on me.  I was passed as we moved onto side streets and back towards the Mews.  Some guy up ahead began slowing down.  He looked to be having bad cramps before he stopped and hurled on the side of the road.  Well at least I picked up one place, I thought.  But he caught back up to me within a quarter mile and sped off.

They put a clock at the 5k point and I was dismayed to see it read 19:03 as I passed.  Ugh.  Unlike the monster hill from the old course, the last half mile of this route is downhill.  I was able to push it briefly on the steepest section but there wasn't anyone threatening behind me and while I slowly gained on some guy I knew I wasn't going to catch him.  I crossed the finished not exactly thrilled with my race but happy to be done.

Crossing the finish - Photo by Easter Seals

News Team Assemble!

Post-race libations

My mood improved once the beer began flowing and the camaraderie began.  Amanda ran as well, intent on just enjoying herself as she hasn't been running much lately.  A couple other buddies rounded out the Channel 4 New Team and we finished a respectable 14 out of 50 in the Family/Friends team category.  I was surprised to see that I finished 2nd in my age group!  Psyched to get an award - it turned out to be a $10 Denali gift card though I was hoping for a Mews gift cert.

I knew going into this race that I wasn't 100% and that I had to temper my expectations.  I'm bummed that I seemed to have lost a step in terms of speed but I'm glad the knee wasn't an issue during the race.  I still had a great time as it's the Mews race and the food/beer/friends afterwards is always enjoyable.  Hopefully I'll continue to improve so that I'm in good shape for the 4th Season.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Weekly Log: 11.17.14 - 11.23.14

Last full work for a while before Turkey Day next week and my company's annual conference (in Miami!) the week after.  I was glad to see that everyone did so well at Li'l Rhody yesterday.  Bummed I couldn't be a part of it but everyone was having major PRs and I question whether I would have even bested last year's time.

The janky knee has become a part of me.  It teels okay for awhile before becoming sore after a day of activity.  I hope to hit at least 20 miles this week and also get back into some morning bodyweight stuff.  The week ends with one of the few short road races that I really look forward to - the Mews Tavern Gear & Beer 5k.  Well, this year it's a 6.9k but otherwise it's the same crowded race with friends and beer.  Not sure how I'll do but I'm looking forward to it.

Monday - East Providence, RI - 5.9 miles

It was a day of heavy rain but it relented at midday and I ventured out for a run.  Cold out there!  I had a long-sleeve tech shirt, hat and gloves and warmed up soon enough.  A misty rain fell the whole time.  I ran neighborhood roads north towards Pawtucket, finding myself a bit lost on unfamiliar streets.  I had a general idea of where I was and eventually found my way back to the office.  The pace on this run was good - it took some effort to keep it up at first but got easier as it went on.  I was aware of the knee the whole time but it didn't really hurt.

Tuesday - East Providence, RI - 4 miles

I ran some old dirt roads that run along the Seekonk River and retired train tracks.  I left gloves at the office and my hands were frigid!  But after 1.5 miles they warmed up fine.  A lot of water hazards to avoid after yesterday's rain.  This area technically is off limits and as I returned to the entrance I saw a cop pulling someone over.  I decided to backtrack and found another means of escape.  Short run but I felt alright.

Wednesday - Seekonk, MA - 4.1 miles

200 push-ups (standard/wide/decline) 30/35/30/30/40/35

I wanted some trails so I ventured over to the Caratunk Preserve.  Beautiful cold day in the woods.  Kept the pace easy and relaxed.  I tried to follow the powerlines for a bit since they had recently mowed the grass but there were some muddy low-lying areas and I didn't feel like have filthy cold feet.  My knee was achy by the end of it.

Thursday - Charlestown, RI - 3 miles

50 pull-ups (standard/wide)

Early morning dog jog in the dark.  Then some pull-ups.  Glad I'm able to get back to the push-ups/pull-ups without any arm pain.

Friday - East Providence, RI - 6 miles

Cold!  I didn't have much motivation but I got out there and did sort of the reverse of Monday's run.  I warmed up quickly and had a crisp sub-7 minute which didn't feel like work.  Ran up to and through a nice cemetery before returning to the office on different streets.  I started to feel the knee at the cemetery and while it didn't hurt it remained in my mind, reminding me of its janky-ness.

I plan to take tomorrow off in preparation for Sunday's race.  I hoping to put together a good performance.  I honestly don't know what to expect as I haven't pushed my legs to do any speedwork.  We shall see.

Saturday - 0 miles

Sunday - Mews Tavern Gear and Beer 6.9k, Wakefield, RI - 7 miles

Official time: 16:10.  13th overall.  Report here.

Weekly mileage: 30.1 miles

Year to Date: 1631.1 miles

Friday, November 14, 2014

Weekly Log: 11.10.14 - 11.16.14

Li'l Rhody Runaround week is here but I won't be towing the line this year.  With my knee still achy and a dearth of running since Bimbler's, I don't feel like I'm in shape to compete.  Perhaps that's just in my head but whatever.  I'm looking forward to volunteering and seeing all my running friends as it's been awhile.

I'm hopeful that I can get over 20 miles this week and begin to prepare for the 4th Season Trail Series which will be here before you know it.  Looking at my mileage chart so far this year, you can see that I was on pace to hit 2000 (the light blue line) up until Bimbler's.  Now I'm flatlining. I know I shouldn't get worked up over hitting arbitrary mileage goals (that's what janked my knee up in the first place) but it's hard.


Monday - East Providence, RI - 5 miles

18 pull-ups (standard/chin-up) 8/10

Started my morning pull-up routine but something didn't feel right so I bailed.  Now a few hours later and my left elbow really hurts.  Damn it.  Picking up stuff with that arm is painful.  That's all I need.

It was 32 degrees when I woke up but by noon in the city it was 55 and gorgeous.  Ran across the bridge to the East Side and explored the Blackstone Park trails and nearby streets.  Pace was in the mid 7's but I was working hard and it made me feel out of shape.  As I ran back to the office I picked up the pace and felt better about the run after it was over.

Tuesday - Charlestown, RI - 5 miles

Arm really hurts.  Bit of a bummer.  But I took the day off because we threw a surprise party for Em who turned 16 yesterday!  In the afternoon, I went over the Carter Preserve and did a fun loop.  I explored a side trail I had seen before in the grassland loop - it led down to the train tracks.  I hoped to see a train go by but no such luck.  Maybe one day I'll venture across and explore the other side.

Wednesday - Seekonk, MA - 4 miles

Arm still hurts.  This is bullshit!  Guess no upper body work at all this week.  At lunch I did an easy loop around the Turner Reservoir.  I explored a side street to check out the houses that line the pond.  So that's how the other half lives.  Very nice.  Knee was pretty achy by bedtime.

Thursday - 0 miles

I chumped out of a run after work.  I convinced myself that it was because I'm still on the mend from the knee thing but the truth is that it was dark after work and I didn't have the motivation to venture out there.

Friday - 0 miles

No running but I did check out a gentleman's barber shop on the East Side for a beard trim and an old fashioned straight razor neck shave.

Saturday - 0 miles

Sunday - 0 miles

No runs materialized for me this weekend.  Yard work yesterday seemed to aggravate my janky knee.  I got to help out though before the Li'l Rhody race.  It was good to see the familiar folks, however briefly.  Looks like there were some absolutely dynamite performances today!

Weekly Mileage: 14.1 miles

Year to Date: 1,601 miles

Friday, November 7, 2014

Weekly Log: 11.3.14 - 11.9.14

Here we are in November.  Another year almost done.  I've had some great running success this year but I'm a bit bummed that I'm having to take it easy lately due to Janky Knee.  I'd like to increase the mileage this week but I'll have to pay attention to how everything's feeling.  Better to be safe than sorry.

I'm probably going to skip Li'l Rhody this year.  I think it's better if I don't throw in a hard trail effort in two weeks time.  I'd rather continue to slowly get back into running so that I'm good shape for the South County 4th Season Trail Race Series.

Monday - Seekonk, MA - 3.2 miles

42 pull-ups (standard/chin-up/close grip) 6/10/6/6/8/6

Warm day out there!  I ventured over to the trails along the Turner Reservoir.  A lot of the exposed roots had been spraypainted white which I thought was odd - then I realized that the Seekonk High School next door probably uses these trails for their cross country coarse.  Felt good to be out there running and I made a short Strava segment from a loop that juts out into the lake.  Knee felt okay but my quad was extremely sore for the rest of the day.

Tuesday - 0 miles

P90X Chest, Shoulders & Triceps (60 minutes)

It's probably been six months since I last did a full P90X workout.  I put in a good hard effort but I overdid it a bit as my triceps began to hurt by the end of the day.

During the day I both voted and gave blood - double threat guy!

Wednesday - East Providence, RI - 5.1 miles

DOMS!  My upper body is super sore all over.  Guess I need to resume the P90X more often.  And I definitely strained my triceps yesterday.  Today I ran along the 10 Mile River bikepath.  I kept the pace very easy and was constantly analyzing every little twitch and ache from my knee.  Explored a few trailish areas of Slater Park before returning to the car.  Overall a good run but my knee was achey that night.

Thursday - 0 miles

47 pull-ups (standard/chin-up) 8/11/6/7/7/8

Friday - Charlestown, RI - 3 miles

The only activity today was an early morning dog jog.  Hopefully I'll get in a 6-7 trail run this weekend.

Saturday - 0 miles

Sunday - 0 miles

Notions of a mid-day trail run vanished as a lazy Sunday took root.  

Weekly Mileage: 12.2 miles
Year to Date: 1,588 miles

Monday, November 3, 2014

Keezer Build - Part 2

Time to conclude the keezer project I started in Part 1.  Last time I had built the dolly, the temperature controller and cut the wood for the collar.  Now it was time to put it all together.

I went to a welding supply shop in Cranston with my empty CO2 tank.  As I figured, the hydro stamp was out of date (basically ever five years the tank has to be tested to verify it's still safe.)  They charged me for the hydro test but swapped out the tank which saved me having to wait about three weeks.  Great guys and they have good deals on filling your propane tank, FYI.

Anyway, with my new full CO2 tank I quickly discovered that it was heavy as hell.  I decided to double the 2x4 base on the dolly to make sure it could hold it.  Then I fashioned some ramshackle chains to hold it in place and it was good to go.  It won't be winning any beauty awards but it'll do the trick.  The tank could have easily just gone on the floor next to the keezer but this will make it easier if I want to move it.

Time for the collar.  First I drilled a couple holes in the front for the faucets and one in the back for the gas line.  After that I sanded it and put on two coats of polyurethane.  You're supposed to add a base later of some other stuff first and then sand between coats and blah blah blah.  I'm not building an mahogany cabinet here.  I slapped a couple coats on it and called it a day.

Time to drill!

Once dry I attached the collar to the freezer using silicone sealant.  I waited most of the day for it to dry.  I probably should have waited longer but I was impatient.  After six hours excitement got the better of me and I attached the freezer lid to the collar.  It worked great.  The faucets were attached and I screwed the air splitter to the back wall.  The red gas line goes into the splitter and then on to the separate kegs.   It was a bitch trying to get the gas line through the hole I made and I had to run my drill bit around the edges which is probably definitely not recommended to get it through.

The keezer was now ready to hold beer!  I had an ESB that was ready and waiting.  Normally I'd have to transfer the beer to a bottling bucket along with priming sugar and then sanitize, fill and cap many a bottle.  Instead I ran some StarSan through the keg and then racked the beer into it.  So easy!

With the keg half full of beer (it was a 2.5 gallon batch) it was time to learn how difficult it was to move it into the keezer.  It wasn't too bad but then I filled the other keg with water - this was a real bear to lift and I had to use a stepstool to help lift it over the collar.  It was not easy but luckily I won't be doing it that often.

In case you're wondering I filled the other keg with water to improve the thermal mass in the keezer.  Liquid holds a temperature much better than air so the more liquid in you have, the better the keezer will hold the temp.  After I added the kegs, I plugged it into the temperature controller and over the next couple days monitored it.  It would take about 30-40 minutes to climb to 44 degrees before turning the keezer on and cooling it down to 42 degrees.

That's not a great amount of downtime and having the keezer's compressor turn on every 40 minutes or so will wear it out sooner rather than later.  Some more online research on the great really helped me out.  First, I added some pink foam insulation around the inside of the collar.  This stuff was easy to cut and proved to be the perfect size.  I cut a couple holes for the faucets and cut a couple smaller pieces to fit around the red gasline.  Then I screwed the air splitter through the foam and into the wood.  The stuff fit so snugly that I didn't even have to glue it.

The other change I made was to cover the thermometer with bubblewrap insulation and tape it to the side of a gallon glass jug filled with water.  Since liquid temp changes slowly, it is much more efficient to gauge the temp of the water rather than the air temp which can fluctuate wildly, especially if I open the lid.  After I made these improvements, it now takes about 2-2.5 hours for the temp controller to rise from 42 to 44 degrees.

Pink insulation and better thermometer placement helped a lot

A few more small projects rounded out the build.  I attached the temp controller to a board behind the keezer so it was out of the way.  It's held in place but some nuts but can easily be unscrewed in order to move the keezer.  Then I attached another board and did some half-assed woodwork in order to hang some of my favorite glasses within arms reach.

At a craft store I found a couple magnetic photo holders which worked great to identify the taps. The labels slide right in and can easily be switched out.  Hopefully it'll encourage me to get creative with each new batch.


There you have it!  Come on over and have a pint!