Monday, July 21, 2014

The first days of Fort Max

We closed on Fort Max on July 2nd. We did our final walk through in the morning, signed our papers, then went back to claim it as ours. I carried my wife over the thresh hold and we promptly went to work making it our new home. Yvonne focused on cleaning the bathrooms and kitchen and I had to go back to work. So we didn't really get any "solid" work done until the 3rd.

Our primary areas of work were the three bedrooms, the hallway (which included two closets), and the living room. The bathrooms were functional and dated but we left them alone. The kitchen was up to date but was also left alone. The basement and outside were left alone. We focused on the main living areas so we could prep for painting and flooring.

A before picture.

So off with the carpet we went. The old carpet and padding were ripped out. The best way to remove it is to use a utility knife to cut it into manageable sections and just yank. A mask may be needed if you don't want to breath in the crap left behind but I didn't care about that, I just wanted to get rid of the 20 year-old crap. Once you remove all the carpet, remove all the padding. In our case, it was that greenish, mottled stuff. There were remnants of the egg carton stuff under it but not much.

Some more before pictures.

Then comes the tack strip. A hammer and prybar work great. But be careful. Those things will stab you faster than you think is possible. Have a trashcan ready (but no bag) so you can toss them right in. I learned that breaking them in half (carefully) made them not stand up too high out of the trash can and therefore less likely to cut me.

The previous owner's name on the carpet.

After the tack strip comes the really hard work. Staples. Tons of them. Thousands of them. Seriously. It took my right hand a week and a half before it was back to normal. After a day I could barely grab anything. Needle-nose pliers work best but the prybar and hammer worked in a pinch. It's slow and painful, but necessary.

And then comes the baseboard. Take. Your. Time. We lost a day or two because we went a little too fast and ended up popping holes in the drywall. That meant patching and mud and more mud and sanding and more mud. Not fun. Go slow, take it easy, and it'll work. The best technique I found was to use a drywall putty knife, a wider one that's pretty stiff, a hammer, and a thin prybar. I call them the cat's paw type of prybar but it's a small one with a thin end that can slip between the wall and the baseboard. If you don't have a putty knife to pry against, use a small, thin piece of wood or plywood. Something to distribute the pressure of prying the boards off.

Once that was done, we were down to bare wood on the floors. And quickly noticed a few that needed to be replaced. Expect this to happen at every level of home repair. I'm sure there's a rule of thumb out there for it but everything we've done so far has come with some hidden cost of either money or time that we didn't plan for. But the key should always be to take the time and money to do it right.

As for the flooring, we had diagonal slats on top of the floor joists then glued sawdust on top of that. The glued sawdust has a special name that I don't know. But it's not the typical plywood you would find in the stores today. In fact, the thickness was not normal either. The flooring guys had to buy two sheets and sandwich them together to get the same height as the original floor. Anyway, the pets that had lived her before had peed all over the floor and it was readily visible in every room. So in a couple of spots the sawdust layer had started to dry rot and from our normal foot traffic with no carpet to protect it, it got worse. So it got replaced. We were tempted to just re-floor everything but the floors weren't squeaky and the sawdust layer was solid.

After a second day of staple removal, we walked around like people with claws instead of hands. But it was tons better. We vacuumed, looked, and looked again. We still missed a few staples, but generally speaking we got 98% of them the first time through.

Stay tuned for more adventures at Fort Max.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Brass vs. Steel

When it comes to plumbing, or anything related to water, you want to stick with brass. Or at least avoid steel. In the continuing adventures of #FortMax, we had a toilet begin dripping water shortly after we moved in. Thankfully the leak wasn't a major one but it was certainly inconvenient to be down a working toilet right away.

The final diagnosis on the cause of the leak was a steel bolt was used to attach the toilet tank to the toilet bowl. It was clearly an after-market repair as all toilet kits come with brass bolts for that particular connection. The steel bolt rusted over time because it is in direct contact with the water inside the tank. That rust led to a leak.

My working theory is that at some point in time the steel bolt was put in during a tank repair. Because the house was not used frequently, the rust accumulated but didn't have any movement in the tank. Once we started using it, the water coming into the tank and going out caused the rust to move, thus causing the leak to appear.

Again, we're thankful that the leak wasn't a big one and didn't have any lasting impact on the bathroom floor (or basement ceiling). But it's yet again another thing to think about when doing your household repairs. Take the time (and the money) to do it right the first time. The cost difference between a brass and a steel bolt can't be that much. Maybe pennies. But even if it was a few dollars, imagine the amount of money you would need to spend on repairing your bathroom floor and cleaning up a flooded basement. All because you used a steel bolt in the toilet.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

So many lessons learned, not enough time to teach them

In what I hope will be a continuing series on the lessons I've learned in home ownership and maintenance, I'll attempt to dispense with what knowledge I have. For those looking forward to these posts (or hoping to avoid them), simply look for the tag #FortMax. That's what we have dubbed our new house and the name seems to have stuck.

Which leads me to how we came about naming our new home. Once upon a time, I was a kid in the 1980s growing up with my father. We lived in a quaint little neighborhood with a pool, a couple of dead-end streets, and plenty of families that were always nice to you. Our new house is two doors down from that house I grew up in. I knew the previous (and original) owner when I was a kid. His first name was Barry. One of our favorite TV shows is The Goldbergs, a show about a kid growing up with this family in the 1980s. His older brother is named Barry. So with the 80s, the Barrys, and the shared childhood experiences, I asked Adam Goldberg to name our new house.

He came up with Fortress Maximus. I'll admit, I wasn't too impressed. But over time, I shortened it to Fort Max, started using the nickname, and it stuck. Stuck so much, my kids and my wife are using it. Not all the time but enough to know that's the nickname that'll stick.

So there you have it, the birth of a new house for us. Stay tuned for future installments of what I've learned from Fort Max.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Track Work

This workout sucked. A lot. But I managed it.

Plan was 20 to 24 by 200m with 100m recovery. So I aimed for 20 reps of 200m in Zone 4 with 100m walking recovery. And I think I stuck to it for the most part. I pushed hard on the last few then somehow cranked out a few more reps. I didn't pass out but I did come close to some acid reflux. I stepped it down a hair and avoided it. Outside of that, the run was fairly uneventful. After all, it was a track. Haven't spent that much time on a track since high school. Sheesh. Boring as all get out.


I used a Sharpie because I can't count so well.

Temps were about 80F. Humidity was moderate. Wind was light. Sun was out in full. Every lap I'd get a bit of a breeze.

Fluids and Fuel:
Breakfast was three waffles and coffee. During the run I had a bottle of GenUCAN electrolytes and a bottle of plain water. Recovery was some burger wraps, fries, and iced latte.

Aches and Pains:
Managed 10 reps before my legs felt like ass. After that I just did my best to hang on. With about a mile left, I just down-shifted and took it easy. Outside of that, everything felt fine.

No special gear except for my Sharpie. I'm lousy at keeping track of laps so I wrote on my arm.

Heart Rate:
Haven't looked at the stats yet but I'm sure I kept it in Zone 4 or higher on the 200m sections and was lucky if I got down to Zone 2 on the 100m recovery walk.

Warm-up (800 meters) - 5:35 (AVG HR 134)
Rep 1 - 1:03 (AVG HR 161)
Recovery 1 - 1:06 (AVG HR 147)
Rep 2 - 1:01 (AVG HR 154)
Recovery 2 - 1:06 (AVG HR 150)
Rep 3 - 1:01 (AVG HR 156)
Recovery 3 - 1:07 (AVG HR 152)
Rep 4 - 00:59 (AVG HR 158)
Recovery 4 - 1:09 (AVG HR 153)
Rep 5 - 1:04 (AVG HR 157)
Recovery 5 - 1:07 (AVG HR 153)
Rep 6 - 1:02 (AVG HR 160)
Recovery 6 - 1:06 (AVG HR 157)
Rep 7 - 1:00 (AVG HR 163)
Recovery 7 - 1:08 (AVG HR 158)
Rep 8 - 1:04 (AVG HR 160)
Recovery 8 - 1:10 (AVG HR 158)
Rep 9 - 1:03 (AVG HR 164)
Recovery 9 - 1:09 (AVG HR 157)
Rep 10 - 1:05 (AVG HR 163)
Recovery 10 - 1:07 (AVG HR 160)
Rep 11 - 1:04 (AVG HR 161)
Recovery 11 - 1:07 (AVG HR 161)
Rep 12 - 1:06 (AVG HR 162)
Recovery 12 - 1:05 (AVG HR 164)
Rep 13 - 1:05 (AVG HR 164)
Recovery 13 - 1:10 (AVG HR 161)
Rep 14 - 1:04 (AVG HR 165)
Recovery 14 - 1:09 (AVG HR 167)
Rep 15 - 1:04 (AVG HR 167)
Recovery 15 - 1:08 (AVG HR 168)
Rep 16 - 1:07 (AVG HR 166)
Recovery 16 - 1:07 (AVG HR 168)
Rep 17 - 1:04 (AVG HR 169)
Recovery 17 - 1:05 (AVG HR 169)
Rep 18 - 1:02 (AVG HR 170)
Recovery 18 - 1:09 (AVG HR 174)
Rep 19 - 1:02 (AVG HR 171)
Recovery 19 - 1:08 (AVG HR 177)
Rep 20 - 00:58 (AVG HR 178)
Recovery 20 - 1:11 (AVG HR 174)
Rep 21 - 1:13 (AVG HR 167)
Recovery 21 - 1:12 (AVG HR 166)
Rep 22 - 1:17 (AVG HR 167)
Recovery 22 - 1:13 (AVG HR 166)
Rep 23 - 1:14 (AVG HR 167)
Cool Down (500 meters) - 4:48 (AVG HR 143)
Finish - 1:00:28
AVG HR - 159
MAX HR - 191
MIN HR - 87

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Cuts Like A Knife

Today's run was very much needed but very painful too. I needed it, wanted it, and got it done. My alarm went off and I ignored it, choosing to get another hour or so of sleep. Once I finally rolled out of bed, I downed about half a serving of GenUCAN and got my gear ready. Within half an hour I got out the door only to find that it was a bit rainy out. Not full on rain but more of a light mist. I'd end up getting lucky in missing almost all the rain. I had a few drops here and there but nothing too terrible. Although the down side to that was the humidity was insane.

Along the way, I felt pretty good at the start. I had a decent pace, cadence felt good, and overall everything was nominal. I saw some underwear, some more underwear, and a guy walking his dog (and I'm certain it wasn't his underwear). I also saw some signs for the moving sale that's at our new house where the seller is moving out.

And of course I ran to the new house, aka Fort Max, and ran around the neighborhood. That was the route I decided on yesterday and that was what I stuck to. It was kind of nice to go from old to new and back again. It'll be nice to be back to my old hood.

The way back was much rougher. The heat wasn't much worse and the humidity was the same but I was lacking a lot of energy. I'm not sure if it was fueling or electrolytes, or just lack of training. My guess is lack of training. So even though I can go out and do 10 or 15 miles at a time, I do have a price to pay in the later miles. Thankfully I didn't need to pay too much until the last few miles.


Moving Sale!

Temps were about 70F to 75F. Humidity was high. Sky was overcast. No wind.

Fluids and Fuel:
Had about one scoop of chocolate GenUCAN before the run. During the run I had plain water, a bottle of GenUCAN electrolyte drink mix mixed with plain GenUCAN fuel. I also had plain water in my hydration pack. At about one hour and the second hour, I had an applesauce. Recovery was a Capri Sun because I was feeling a little woozy when I got home. I know it wasn't the best choice but it helped getting the extra sugar. I followed that with some nasty fries and a burger. And a coffee. Really needed the coffee more than anything.

Aches and Pains:
Felt pretty solid for the first part of the run. Second half had a abdominal cramp appear for some reason. It wasn't like a side stitch from running too fast (ha!) it was more like a cramp or strain. Anyway, it was there the whole way back and didn't fade or come and go like a side stitch. Also had some minor pain in my right foot on a few of my toes. Nothing major but noticeable. And I had some minor pain in my right knee. Again, nothing major, just some pain on the outside of it.

No special gear but I did forget to pack my knife. So when I ran past a box cutter that somebody lost on the side of the road, I picked it up and carried it. Figured it was better than nothing.

Heart Rate:
I did pretty good staying in the zone for at least the first part. When I creeped into a higher zone, I felt decent keeping it steady at 160 the first half. The second half was rough and I struggled to keep things below 170. Seems like every time I got up and running again, I needed to slow down.

Finish - 3:14:04
AVG HR - 155
MAX HR - 186
MIN HR - 91
RHR - Forgot to measure
Weight - 224.2 (after the run)