Friday, February 27, 2015

Weekly Log: 2.23.15 - 3.1.15

The long slog of February is almost over!  With the end of winter on the horizon (perhaps) I hope to continue to put in some good weeks.  Ocean's Run 1/2 is two weeks away and Brrr-lingame is the week after that but I'm just going to focus on hitting my mileage goals.  We'll see what happens come race day.

Monday - Charlestown, RI - 8 miles

I was working from home today, tasked with getting the well pump working again.  Before work I did three miles with the dog.  By noon the water guys showed up and quickly put in a new well pump.  We were probably long overdue for this so I was glad we finally got it done.  Later in the afternoon I went back out for another five miles on Old Coach and nearby streets.

Tuesday - 0 miles

In the morning I had a appointment with a neurosurgeon about my neck.  I've got a bulging disc which is squeezing the nerve, causing the numbness/tingling down my arm.  Apparently this is a common problem and in fact my spine doc has had it three times.  He's also a runner who just had to bow out of Ocean's Run because of his IT band.  It was fun talking running with him for a few minutes and it made me feel better about the neck situation.  Anyway I'm going to start going to PT for the neck and see if that does the trick.

Wednesday - East Providence, RI - 4.5 miles

I wanted to see if the Ten Mile River Bikepath was still plowed and I met a really annoying dog owner right off the bat.  His beagle was off leash and he had absolutely no control over it.  At least the dog was friendly but all he did was yell at the dog and the dog did not care whatsoever.  The bike path was now down to a singletrack in the snow which I ran until the going got too tough.  On the way back I passed the dog guy and decided to stick to roads for the rest of the run.  In a neighborhood nearby I spied a snowy field - turns out to be more open space I've never explored.  I stuck to the singletrack paths and the running wasn't too bad here.  This connected to trails I've been on next to the Turner Reservoir.  After a bit of exploring, I made my way back to the car.  It's always fun to find new trails however short and I was glad to finally hit some beaten down snow trails.

Thursday - Rehoboth, MA - 8.5 miles

A return to the Wheeler parking lot at the edge of Seekonk and I mapped out another loop on some new roads.  It was cold but pleasant out and I carried the Yaktrax in case I needed them.  I regretted bringing them as they made my hands cold but I took a detour through a neighborhood that was very icy so they ended up coming in handy.  These country roads are ideal for this tough winter - they are wide with little traffic and they don't have much snow/ice on them.  This was a good run and I was pleased with how my body responded considering that I didn't have much pep at the beginning.

Friday - Seekonk, MA - 6.5 miles

Back to the Wheeler parking lot yet again.  I was going to try the East Bay Bike Path but I was skeptical of the conditions and didn't want to be disappointed.  Maybe next week.  Instead I did another of my signature loops.  Nice warmer day and lots of puddles from melting snow which is always a positive development.  By the end I was feeling really good.  So glad the knee is finally back on track.  I suppose that means I need to start getting back to some honest workouts as well.

Saturday - 0 miles

Sunday - North Kingstown, RI - 9.5 miles

I was meeting the family for lunch up near Quonset and decided to try Rome Point for the weekend's "long run."  I had chopped my anticipated 14 mile run down to 10 since Ocean's Run is a week away and I was prepared to go lower based on how the trails were in RP.  This place is very popular and I was happy to see that the trails were all very runnable.  I had the road shoes with Yaktrax and they worked well.  I did the usual trails before heading down the beach.  It occurred to me to continue past the bridge Jonny-style.  I've never actually ran down here and it was the best part of this run.  The shore was frozen over and watching the ice/slush chunks smash into buoys was cool.  This winter may suck and the approaching storm may be another pain-in-the-ass but on at this moment everything was pretty magical down by the water.

I returned to Rome Point and hadn't been back on the trails long when I noticed that my Yaktrax had broke.  Curses!  I wonder if the rocks on the beach had done it.  I was six miles in so I dropped them off at the car and headed back onto the trails.  The road shoes were noticeably more slippery now but overall the traction was still decent enough.  I meandered here and there until I tweaked a nerve on the bottom of my foot and headed back for the car which is just as well as my quads were getting tired from the snow miles.  Just a great winter run.  Finally.

Weekly Mileage: 37.1 miles

Year to Date: 228 miles

Been a while since I ran this many miles in a week.  I've got the standards aches and pains but it feels like things are finally clicking.  And despite another storm to end the week I feel like spring is finally on the horizon.  It's coming!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

SS Brewbucket

Thought I'd create a post about my first run-through with my Stainless Steel Brewbucket.  I won this thing in a contest from the awesome homebrewing forum that was put on by the awesome guys at SS Brewtech.  It's the kind of thing I'd never purchase and it was wonderful to score such a prize.  It holds up to 7 gallons and has some cool features.


Shaped like a bucket, it has a conical bottom to catch the trub.  While not as deep as a true conical, it's still pretty cool and I was eager to see how well the ball spigot worked for the transfer.

Outside during happier, snow-free times

My first attempt did not go well. I assembled it and did several water tests to make sure there were no leaks.  However I think the transparency of water made me think it was watertight when in was not.  I had poured five gallons of stout into the fermenter when the unthinkable happened: a slightest of drips began from the spigot.  I ended up transferring the wort to a plain plastic bucket to ferment (which I rinsed out but totally forgot to sanitize - luckily this hobby is forgiving and the vanilla stout turned out great.)

So, first attempt not so good and I was displeased that the thing leaked despite my many tests.  I took it apart and swapped out the o-rings for new ones and this seemed to do the trick.  Six weeks later I was ready for round two with a bourbon barrel porter.  With the new o-rings there was no leak and I was good to go.  The standard brewbucket doesn't feature a thermometer but mine has one built in.  Not completely necessary but it's cool to see the actual temp inside the fermenter.

The temperature gauge isn't vital  but it's nice to have

A much more useful feature is the ball-lock spigot at the bottom.  Taking a hydrometer sample previously required my turkey baster, sanitizing everything and dipping it in several times to get the sample.  Now I just stick the tube under the spigot and twist the handle.  So quick and easy.

It's so easy to take a hydrometer sample

For the bourbon barrel porter I was transferring the contents from the brewbucket to a couple glass carboys to age on bourbon and oak chips.  Here's another place where the spigot shines.  Just stick the sanitized tube on the spigot and away we go.  There was a slight hiccup when the flow stopped for some reason - then I realized I needed to remove the airlock from the lid to keep the flow going.

Racking into secondary is just as smooth

This batch was another of my typical awkward brews as I brewed four gallons in the bucket but had to figure out how to put it all into secondary.  My glass carboy holds three gallons and I had another smaller vessel that fit three liters.  Not ideal but I'd make it work.  The good news is that the brewbucket spigot made is very simple to fill up the big carboy, shut it off, and then switch over to put the rest in the little guy.

Sanitized carboys

Bourbon and oak chips ready to go!

Bourbon Barrel Porter racked to secondary

All in all a very easy process.  Looking inside, there was a goodly amount of gross krausen caked near the top but the spigot inside did it's job - the trub was left in the cone and stayed out of the secondary.  While dirty, the stainless steal was simple to clean and the wide opening made it easy to get in there.

Conical base at work - not much liquid left
in the bucket

Currently I've got five gallons of Chinook IPA in the brewbucket, finishing up it's primary.  I'll dump a couple ounces of Chinook to dry hop soon and then it'll be another easy transfer into the keg, thanks to the spigot.  One thing I'll say is prior to this batch I had to yet again switch out the o-rings in the spigot as they leaked when I tested 'em.  Apparently others have had the same problem and some outside source o-rings have done the trick.  I may have to do that next time.

So there you go, a pretty cool fermenting vessel.  At $225 it's not exactly a cheap way to brew but it definitely looks sharp and works well.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Weekly Log: 2.16.15 - 2.22.15

Another week of winter.  Hopefully I can keep the running momentum going.  With all the snow I'm not sure when Brrr-lingame will be taking place.  But with three weeks until Ocean's Run, I'm pretty much past the point about being able to do anything to prepare.  Best to just keep the mileage up and see what happens.

Monday - Charlestown, RI - 3.1 miles

It was fucking cold today but luckily I had the day off thanks to Presidents Day.  Took Oliver for a quick jog at lunchtime.  By then the temp was manageable outside.  We had to cut it short as he developed a limp around mile two.  This has happened occasionally to him before.  After a moment he seemed alright and we made our way back to the house with no further incidents.

Tuesday - 0 miles

More fucking snow but this time I'm at work for a change.  It was really coming down in the morning and I had no appetite for driving somewhere on shitty roads to find a place to run.

Look at this shit!

Wednesday - Seekonk, MA - 7.5 miles

Running near work is not possible.  The snow and crazy drivers make the roads death traps for runners.  But the country roads of nearby Seekonk are a different story.  I parked at the Wheeler School track which was immaculately plowed and then did a easy loop with a few side streets thrown in for good measure.  Streets were fairly clear of slop and there weren't too many cars to worry about.  At the beginning I felt tired and wondered how I was ever going to run Ocean's Run 1/2 in 2.5 weeks.  Eventually I loosened up and felt better about things.  My janky knee did hurt a bit towards the end of the run but I'm going to try not to worry about it.

Thursday - Seekonk, MA - 8.5 miles

I enjoyed yesterday's run so much that I decided to return to the Wheeler parking lot and try a new loop.  I usually carry clothes and items for every running contingency but somehow I forgot my hat and gloves.  I settled for my knit Red Sox hat that I had worn by accident at the Belleville Pond 10k.  For my hands I just wrapped them in a couple extra tech shirts I had brought, though it made me look more disheveled than normal.

Actually this run was mostly in Rehoboth and the roads were considerably worse than yesterday from a little snow during the night.  I soon found myself running on all snow but luckily the New Balance road shoes had pretty decent traction.  There weren't too many cars and I could duck to the side whenever one appeared.  Around mile 5 I reached some fancy wide open neighborhood and then the wind really hit me.  My shorts were pretty flimsy and with the cold wind I soon experienced a stinging sensation down under.  It was rather unpleasant for the rest of the run but it wasn't enough to bum me out - this was a fun run otherwise.  I'm looking forward to exploring more of these country roads in the warmer months.

Friday - 0 miles

Colds as balls out there and the company president is coming to the office today for lunch.  Good day to take a zero after the last two days of good running.

Saturday - Charlestown, RI - 12 miles

With band practice the night before and subzero temps in the morning, I had no desire to run early.  As the day wore on the temperature warmed to a balmy 30 degrees but my motivation dwindled even further.  Finally I dragged myself out there as Oliver needed a walk.  We did 5.5 miles, getting pretty dirty in the process.  I dropped him off at the house where Amanda proceeded to give him a bath and I set out again, hitting side roads on the way to the Nordic Lodge.  The Nordic road was still covered in snow and slippery at points but it was nice running in a quiet winterscape.  On the way back to the house my legs began to run out a steam - it's been a while since I ran 12 miles and it showed.  Still I'm glad I defeated my own desire to do nothing and got out there.

Sunday - 0 miles

Wasn't planning on running today and just as well.  It was a rainy, slushy mess out there.  Our well pump finally crapped out at noon which I've been worried about for years.  Finally it happened.  And then the car got stuck in the slush trying to get out of the driveway.   What a messy way to end the week and now we don't have water.

Weekly Mileage: 31.1 miles

Year to Date: 190.9 miles

I hit 30 miles for the week which is what I wanted.  If I can keep this mileage up for the next couple weeks I'll be happy.  Looking forward to getting back in the woods one day.  Now to get this well pump fixed.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Weekly Log: 2.9.15 - 2.15.15

Monday - 0 miles

Ow!  Achy quads after yesterday's snow slog at Ryan Park.  Think I'll take it easy today.

Tuesday - Charlestown, RI/Seekonk, MA - 7.5 miles

I took Oliver out for 3.5 miles in the morning.  At lunch, I drove off in search of viable running grounds.  I decided to see if the Caratunk Sanctuary was broken in at all but there was a trash collector that appeared to be stuck getting out of the parking lot.  The neighborhood roads on the opposite side of the road were snow covered and promising so I backtracked to a nearby empty parking lot at a church.  Slapped on the Yaktrax and after a short section of pavement I reached the neighborhood.  These roads were great with the 'trax.  The trash truck finally got out of the parking lot and I checked out the trails.  Someone had some luck snowshoeing but I sank in deep almost immediately and decided to return to the snowy roads for the rest of the run.

Wednesday - Wakefield/Hopkinton, RI - 10.1 miles

I had an MRI in the morning on my janky neck that's making my whole right arm numb.  But I had a few minutes to kill so I the hit the nearby roads.  Not too cold and the roads had good crunch snow for traction.  It was my first time in the MRI machine - it didn't bother me too much but I could see it freaking people out.

I had to pick Em up from dance so I got there an hour early and ran in the dark.  It was in the high teens but I felt good.  Hadn't been on these roads in awhile.

Thursday - 0 miles

No run today - instead I used my lunch break for some beard love at Chez Moustache.  So glad they had parking available.  The East Side is slowly being crushed by snow.

Friday - Charlestown, RI - 12.6 miles

I took the day off since the furnace guy was coming in the morning to service the furnace.  I took Oliver out for a couple miles before he showed up.  Sweet niblets it was cold.  We both wanted to get it over with - it might be our fastest dog jog ever.  Then I brewed what I think will be a kickass IPA.

Towards the end of the day I set out and did a lollipop shaped route up to Biscuit City Road.  I love this road's name and took the opportunity to explore a few side streets I'd never been on.  Around mile six I got a call from my nurse practitioner with the MRI results.  Not good.  Apparently I've got bulging discs, narrowed nerves - that's some repugnant shit!  Next step is to see a spinal doctor.

But this call came while I was in the middle of a great run so I took the news in stride (hyuck, hyuck). Roads are finally looking much clearer after all the recent storms.  Of course we've got more snow this weekend.  The fun never ends.

Saturday - Charlestown, RI - 3.7 miles

More goddamn snow.  We had to push Ezri's birthday party to next weekend.  I'm sure we'll get more snow then but what are you going to do?  I did a short run with Oliver as some big fat flakes began to fall.  Then we retreated back to the house for the latest storm.  Amanda made stuffies for dinner as I had requested them - she is a such a super lady.

Sunday - 0 miles

Props to all my running friends that ventured out to get in some blizzard runs.

Weekly Mileage: 33.9 miles

Year to Date: 159.8 miles

Good week of running!  This was actually my highest mileage week since mid-October.  Yikes!  But a lot of positive runs this week.  Pretty good considering I only ran four days.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Belleville Pond 10k 2015

Official time: 49:58.  10th overall.  5th in Age Group.  Results here.

The Belleville Pond 10k is the third race of the South County 4th Season Trail series put on by the majestic Mike Galoob.  Last year it was a snowy sufferfest.  We had all been hoping that it would be a dryer affair this year but that was not meant to be.  I thought that the multiple storms in the prior weeks would have given us an even tougher challenge.  But thanks to Jonny and the other park enthusiasts, word was that the course was in much better shape than last year.  Except for the stretch along Route 4 which would still be brutal.

I arrived and set out on a solo warm-up on the first part of the course.  I'm not sure how slippery the snow was but the Yaktrax made traction no problem.  I was pleasantly surprised by just how hardpacked the snow trail was near the beginning.  It got a little choppier once it hit that rise over the pond but it was still much better than last year.  I made my way back to the start.  There, as if to remind us that it still going to be a hard slog, Galoob led us to the start on the basketball course where the snow had barely been broken.

It's a mad dash for the single snow track - Photo by Jana Walker

We lined up and were quickly off.  The start was a mad dash past boulders and through the icy parking lot to a narrow singletrack in the snow.  Everyone went out like a lunatic vying for position and I found myself in about fifth place once the train fully formed.  Last year I found myself too far back at the beginning and had to work hard to pass in unbroken snow.  I was much happier to let others pass me this year.  Eric Lonergan quickly went by and then Jonny and Jeff followed soon after.  All of them wasted no time in gapping me before the rise but I was content to ease off a bit.  I hadn't been putting in a lot of miles lately and wasn't sure how I'd fare in the later stages of the race.

There was a nasty choppy section at the end of the rise but the surface improved dramatically as we made our way to the railbed section.  Here Jonny/Jeff had already put a great deal of distance of me.  I heard more approaching footsteps and made way for Chris Fox.  He was soon followed by two other fast looking guys.  All of them began to gap me.  Yikes, who would be coming up behind me next?  I made an effort to cling to them and keep up because I knew the going was about to get a lot rougher.  I hoped that would work to my advantage.

Mile Three was a whole different beast

As soon as we climbed the hill to the powerlines and hit the heavy stuff, those two guys stepped aside and let me pass.  This was the hardest section and the GPS breakdown tells the whole story.  The going was tough here and I shorted my stride and kept plodding along.  I dropped those two guys immediately and way up ahead I could see Chris Fox.  Over the course of the next mile I slowly reeled him in and he stepped aside for me just before we cut across the powerlines.  I tried to put some distance on him but on any half-decent surface he was much faster.  He caught me just before the return to the singletrack.

I was getting pretty tired now and Chris slowly pulled away over the course of this twisty section.  When he reached the railbed he dropped the hammer and he was far ahead by the end of it.  I looked back and didn't see anyone so I was confident in my place but I'm always paranoid.  The hills back towards the pond weren't bad and I ran the root section well, still paranoid about someone coming up from behind.  When I got to the last stretch around the ballfield I was glad to see I had closed the gap again on Chris.  But this time I would not catch him as the "path" through the field was brutal.  It was the least broken up of the entire course and trying to muster any kind of sprint was impossible.  We all looked like drunks stumbling towards the finish line.

Trying to finish - Photo by Jana Walker

Afterwards I was exhausted and so glad to be done.  Heard the good news that Chris Garvin won the whole thing again and WTAC narrowly took the win over the Rhode Runners.   Turns out I had gotten cut up pretty good on the sharp ice/snow of the course.  I also had about a minute lead over the next runner so once again my paranoia was misplaced.

Probably about 20 tiny cuts on this shin - Photo by Mike Crutchley
Did a cooldown with the guys and then pocketed a couple beers when WTAC won the team award.  Afterwards we joined TNT at the Oak Hill Tavern for some well deserved drinks and conversation.  I'm really happy with how the race played out and pleased with how I responded to the tougher terrain.  Thanks to birthday boy Mike Galoob and Family for another great race.  Three down, two to go!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Weekly Log: 2.2.14 - 2.8.14

More snow.  The mild winter of December and early January is long gone.  The forecast for the foreseeable future is dire and I don't know how the hell we're going to run the Belleville Pond 10k on Sunday.  It seems guaranteed to be more painful than last year.

Monday - 0 miles

A shitty storm of snow,  rain and ice is pelting the house today and I'm working from home again which is wonderful.  My knee's a bit achy - probably from overdoing it with the sledding yesterday - and my desire to run is very low.  I'm feeling pretty lethargic and lazy.  I could have gotten out there but it looked miserable.

Tuesday - Charlestown, RI - 4.5 miles

Another work from home day.  I assume East Providence has been completely wiped out by snow.  I may never return there again.  My wife, recognizing that I've been shirking my runs, asked me to walk the dog since I'd be home during the day.  We set out at lunchtime and did 4.5 miles.  I wore Yaktrax and actually wished the roads were worse than they were.  I could've gotten away without them.  I found myself trying to run on whatever slush/snow I could find to avoid the pavement.  Oliver was absolutely filthy by the end.  Amanda says he is the color of dirty snow.  I had some ankle soreness by the end but I'm glad I finally got out there.  Now to make it a habit.

Wednesday - East Providence, RI - 3.8 miles

Finally back in the office and there are just huge mounds of snow everywhere.  This town is a mess.  It's tough pulling out as you can't see what's coming.  People are supposed to shovel the sidewalk in front of their house but there was no way I was running there.  I headed over to the Ten Mile River Bike Path hoping beyond hope that it would be plowed.  Amazingly it was.  There was a nice layer of snow underfoot and the running was great...for about half a mile.  Then the plowing ended and a rough path made by many tracks lay ahead.  Footprints, snowshoes, skis - they had all been out here but the snow was still deep and the going was slow.  Yesterday's sore ankle began to ache.  Guess I'll need to dig out my ankle brace from the bottom drawer.  I made it up to Slater Park and back which I consider a victory.  It was really tough going out there and now I'm dreading Saturday's "race."

Thursday - East Providence, RI - 5 miles

Some snow during the day here at work but it amounted to less than an inch.  I returned to the Ten Mile River Bike Path and decided to just do repeats on the 1/2 mile of plowed path.  I actually really enjoyed this - I was alone, there was just enough snow for a crunchy path and I was able to keep my pace around 7:30.  I just wish I had been able to get out earlier and run in the snow shower.  Ankle was a bit sore but really not bad.  Hopefully I remember to wear the brace on Saturday because I have a feeling I'll need it!

Friday - 0 miles

Saturday - Belleville Pond 10k - 9.3 miles

Tough race in the snow but fun and satisfying.  Report forthcoming.

It dawned on me as I drove to the race that the Ocean's Run Half is only four weeks away.  Yikes!  I haven't run 13 miles since Bimbler's! 

Sunday - Charlestown, RI - 2.8 miles

Quads are pretty sore after yesterday's snowy trail race.  Did a short run on nearby streets to shake 'em out.  I realized that going forward I need to shove more of these short three mile runs into my week.  Hey they work for Bob Jackman, right?

Weekly Mileage: 25.2 miles

Year to Date: 125.9 miles