Monday, September 08, 2014

Fighting Fireman's 5k Race Report

Just a low key, local trail race that was ideal for me to just get out and de-stress. Best of all, I got the chance to help a local firefighter and his family.

The race had a pretty good turn-out with over 50 runners for the 5k and 1 mile kid's race. I showed up early and helped with the registration table. From there, it was ready, set, go and off we went down the trail. The front runners were speedy of course but the rest of us were out there to have fun in the woods. Once across the finish, I hung around for the award ceremony then headed home to spend the day running errands.


Temps were about 80F. Humidity was high. Sun was out. Breeze was light.

Fluids and Fuel:
No breakfast before the run, just some coffee. During the run I had a bottle of plain water. Recovery was two slices of toast and more coffee.

Aches and Pains:
Nothing really hurt.

No special gear.

I had them but then cleared them by accident. But I remember the rough numbers.
Mile 1 - 12ish minutes
Mile 2 - 13ish minutes
Mile 3 - 11ish minutes
Finish - 36:06

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Let's talk basements, standing water, and mold

This is a novel, so skip to the end if you want to see what my question is. Otherwise, grab a coffee and delight in the fact that you got to enjoy your Labor Day weekend.

So our new-to-us-for-2-months house, aka Fort Max, experienced a flooded basement this weekend. We used an exterior faucet to do some cleaning and an hour or two later realized that said faucet had burst due to freezing. Seeing as it's September in Virginia, it had to have happened some time ago. Which means our home inspector didn't catch the busted pipe.

Lesson 1 - Home inspectors don't catch every single thing that's wrong with the house you want to buy.

As soon as we discovered the leak, we shut off the faucet, shut off the water in the house, and shut off the water to the house at the water meter.

Lesson 2 - Know where and how to shut your utilities off. Thankfully the house shut off was in the same wall as the leak and we could easily access it. Thankfully we also know where the water meter shut off was located as well as the special wrench to use (although a crescent wrench works fine too).

We immediately began tossing rags down and moving things that were still dry out of the way. Anything that was wet that could be dried off and saved, we did that too. And we started running the wet/dry shop vac to get as much water up as we could. It was laundry day so most of the dirty clothes caught some of the leaks. Not everything but it did help contain some of the flood.

Lesson 3 - Keep rags handy (ideally large towels) in case of a leak.
Lesson 4 - Store all your important stuff in your basement in plastic totes.
Lesson 5 - If you store items in cardboard boxes, wrap all the contents in a garbage bag.
Lesson 6 - Be prepared to lose anything that's on the floor.
Lesson 7 - Install a leak alarm of some sort.
Lesson 8 - Test all your utilities, like you faucets, right away when you buy a new house.

We were lucky to have two shop vacs on hand. My dad was on his way home so that added some extra help. William, age 7, could help a little but not a lot. Thankfully he could clean up the tools outside that we had been using to clean. Elizabeth, age 10, and my father were more help.

Lesson 9 - Have a clear chain of command when you encounter scenarios like this. The incident leader needs to delegate and communicate with all parties involved.

Once we got a break, we called the home warranty folks and they said a local plumber could come by. The next day. The same plumber we've dealt with before for a leaky toilet who was an ass. We tried to get a different plumber but no dice. The home insurance folks were more helpful and had a tech here in hours to help clean up. He sucked up some water, then set up fans and dehumidifiers. I'm glad I kept checking his work because one of the dehumidifiers had a drain line that fell out of  another drain line and would have just added water to the floor. We also had to run extension cords upstairs because the circuits kept popping from all the fans running.

Lesson 10 - Have fans and dehumidifiers on hand to help remediation start as soon as possible. These should already be a part of your standard issue basement supply list.
Lesson 11 - Check behind everyone's work, especially contractors, to make sure they're doing it right.

The jack-ass plumber came the next day and cut the supply line to the faucet and removed the faucet. He glued a shut-off valve to the supply line so we could still have water in the house. But he did a crappy job of everything. I'm no plumber but I at least know that when you cut a copper pipe, you need to de-burr the end. He didn't. You also need to clean the ends with sandpaper. He didn't. Instead it was a quick glue. Since the home warranty folks didn't want to pay for a pipe that had frozen, we said good bye to the plumber. We weren't going to pay him to do a shitty job. And as far as I'm concerned, he can join my blacklist.

Lesson 12 - Don't be afraid to tell a contractor no. It's easy to just say fix it but if they don't fix it right the first time, you'll be paying for it again later.

With the plumber gone and quick-fix in place, we're now waiting for the insurance adjuster to arrive, the clean-up people to come check on their work, and the HVAC service tech to ensure the equipment is still good. We already got the all-clear from the washer/dryer manufacturer to use the units. The "brains" of them are up high and they're built to be in an inch or two of water. But we still kept an eye on them just to stay safe.

Lesson 13 - After an incident like this, pay attention to any anomalies. This could be the pre-cursor to a new incident.

I know there will be more lessons in the future. But until the final outcome has been reached and everything has been repaired, who knows.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Volcanus Vomitus

Wow. Talk about a whirl-wind weekend. Saturday we had new carpet installed at the rental house. Sunday I got an hour-long run in. And then puked my guts out. And then shit my brains out. And then spent most of Monday in bed.

So, what went wrong? I have no idea. My son got sick on Friday, puked most of the night, and was better by Saturday. Saturday I supervised the carpet installation. Sunday I got up, ate breakfast, and went to run. We assumed the culprit behind my son being sick was a slightly different, yet still dairy free, butter. I had the same butter Sunday morning but didn't think much of it. After my run, which was after breakfast but more than an hour after eating it, I felt queasy so I laid down. I figured the heat had gotten to me and I needed to rest. Well, a few hours later and I still felt like shit.

Queue the volcano-like vomiting. I haven't puked that much since my mother-in-law accidentally tried to kill me with turkey sausage nearly a decade ago. As I puked my guts up, I prayed that the next time I got sick I'd just shit my brains out instead. While that did come later, the puking really wiped me out.

So after Puke Fest 2014 was done, I cleaned myself, and the toilet, and crawled back into bed. I dozed on and off the rest of Sunday and all day Monday. Sadly, my wife got sick about the time I was getting better. Thankfully she's on the mend now (Tuesday) and seems to be almost back to normal.

As for the run itself, well, I took off down a road that used to be part of my old stomping grounds. I meandered a bit into the new power line then headed back. I made another pit-stop at a local fishing hole before finally making it home. There was a short bike ride after that then recovery time. Saw a bike rider out on the road which was cool. And that was about it.


The local fishing hole.

Temps were about 80F. Humidity was moderate. Winds were light. Sky was partly cloudy.

Fluids and Fuel:
Breakfast was waffles, eggs, and yogurt? After at least an hour, I started the run with a bottle of ice water and a bottle of iced GenUCAN electrolyte mix. Recovery was half a bottle of GenUCAN followed by lots of barfing later.

Aches and Pains:
Right ankle was a little tight the first mile or so. After that things were fairly normal. Aside from the queasy stomach.

No special gear. But I did remember my sun screen!

Heart Rate:
Stuck to the plan with my zones and timing. Pretty easy to keep the heart rate up in the later stages of the run, especially with a giant hill on the route.

20 minutes - 20:07 (AVG HR 140)
40 minutes - 48:57 (AVG HR 162)
10 minutes - 5:45 (AVG HR 162)
Finish - 1:14:50
AVG HR - 156
MAX HR - 183
MIN HR - 92

Friday, August 08, 2014

Painting Fort Max

I've painted with my father, mother, step-father, wife, and kids. I've painted in school, for fun, and for work. I wish I was an expert, but I am not. I'm not very creative and I'm very much a perfectionist. Because of this, I quickly learned that I should not paint with anyone else in the house. They disturb me and interupt my workflow.

So when it came time to paint Fort Max, it became apparent that everybody just needed to leave the house so I could get some work done. There were several times I painted late into the night just because I was alone, I could crank Eminem, and I could throw paint on the walls.

And sometimes that's how I felt, like I was just making a giant mess. But it got done and I'm happy with how it looks. There's still a few spots that need touch-ups but overall, it's done. Now to share a few things I learned along the way.

My son picked blue for his accent wall. Having the kids pick a color (for ONE wall) and helping paint that wall kept them semi-entertained.

Supplies. You'll need a lot more than you think you'll need. One brush per color per day. Don't try to wash out your brush or stick it in the fridge or re-use it the next day. Just use a new one. Same with pretty much everything else you use like tray liners, rollers, and more. The basic stuff you'll need to buy quality versions of are your roller holder (that thing with a handle), a nice wooden handle that screws into your roller holder, a paint can opener (you'll need one for the gallon metal cans and one for the 5 gallon plastic buckets), a hammer for the metal cans and rubber mallet for the plastic buckets, a pour spout that fits into your gallon bucket and one that screws onto your 5 gallon bucket, a metal paint tray for your roller, and a small paint container for your cut-in work. Phew! Quite a list. But trust me, that's just the quality stuff you want to buy.

For the cheap, disposable stuff, you'll need tray liners, a box of rags/paper towels, paint brushes, blue painter's tape/frog tape, and rollers. And expect to buy more paint brushes than you ever thought possible. So far, we've gone through close to 30 or so but that's mostly do to the doors needing lots of coats of paint. Anyway, plan on spending more on the disposables.

My daughter's accent wall is pink.

And plan on paying an arm and a leg for paint. We got nearly $1,500 in paint and that's just for most of the house, not all of it. We have some left over but we'll likely use that at the rental or in the kitchen. Either way, it's a ton of paint. So try to catch it on sale or when there's a nice rebate.

As far as your process goes, I found I worked best when I started at the top left corner of a very busy wall. By busy, I mean a wall that had the largest number of obstacles requiring cut-in work. By cut-in work, I mean working with a paint brush to cut-in or trim the area I'm painting. So windows, doors, vents, and anything else you need to paint around with a paint brush. Once I picked a wall to start on, I'd use the brush on the corners (the inside corners) and brush out the heavy strokes on the wall I'm not painting. Then, moving left to right and top to bottom, I'd cut-in along the ceiling, around windows, etc. Except for a very long wall, I could trim one wall before using the roller.

The rest of the house is a plain brown, although it has a touch more red/pink than I expected.

When it came time to use the roller, be prepared to use two coats. It depends on the paint, the wall, and your technique. What worked best for me was to use the roller to get the right texture on the horizontal lines, like along the ceiling and the floor, tops of windows, and doors. Then I'd do the vertical lines like corners, windows, doors, etc. From there, I'd again work left to right and top to bottom. I'd throw some paint on fairly thick, get a good 5 to 8 feet (horizontally) of the wall covered, then go back. When I went back, I'd add more paint, but I'd treat it as my finish coat. I'd go floor to ceiling getting the right texture but when I'd get to the end of the section I was working, I'd kind of brush it out like I would with the paint brush. Hard to describe in words but you're basically taking the roller (or brush) off the surface you're paining but without coming to a full stop. Kind of like a plane taking off, it leaves the ground gently, it just doesn't stop then take off like a rocket.

A few pro-tips. First, that light on the left will turn your room into a sauna and dry your paint faster than you want. Second, that coffee is essentially for late nights. Finally, that platform on the right is ideal for painting.

Once you finish a wall, you simply (ha!) repeat the process a million times until you're done. A small mini roller may help if you need it but I found a normal sized roller will fit above doors and windows and the mini roller only got used once or twice. Once the paint dries, go back with a nice light and see if you  missed a spot so you can touch up as needed.

When it comes to painting trim, especially windows, don't be afraid to lay down on the floor to get it all.

When it comes to clean up, this is where the disposable stuff comes in handy. Dump the extra paint back into the can/bucket, but don't scrape all the stuff that's dried back in there. Leave that scum right where it is. No sense contaminating that small fortune of pigment with crap. Using the tray liner as an awkward glove, grab the roller and muscle it off the holder. Then toss them and the brush into the trash. Now all you need to clean up is the roller holder and the pour spouts. Pretty easy.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

2014 DRHT 50k Race Report - DNF

Yet another DNF. But this one was totally planned well in advance of race day. It still hurts though. I know I can do the distance. Even up to a few minutes before the race started, I was tempted to go the full length. But I knew in the back of my mind that that was not the plan and that even though I would finish, I was not prepared. I didn't want to risk doing anything too stupid and that's what I would have been doing. So I dropped at Mile 4 as planned and returned back to the Start for a full 8 miles of running. A quarter of the distance I could go but those damn cutoff times were looming over me the whole way and I knew I wouldn't make them.

I'll post my full race "report" below the dotted line but I wanted to go over something that happened on race day that made me proud, sad, and inspired all at once.

Have you ever had a complete stranger come up to you and know your name? Kind of freaky, right? Have they ever known more than just your name? You know, like your wife's name or kid's name or where you work or knew of some accomplishment that you made recently? Super-freaky, right? Well, that's happened to me a few times over the years. And yes, it freaks me out. Like when I ran the Oil Creek 100 last year, somebody knew me from my race report from the year before. I felt so honored that they knew me and appreciated my race report but it was like an out-of-body experience that they knew so much about me. Yes, I know, I don't exactly hide behind a curtain and feel comfortable sharing my life online, but you get the idea.

Anyway, I had several people that either knew about my planned DNF or that were concerned about my DNF on race day. It was crazy. I never knew that many people even knew who I was or would remember me after last year's race. I mean, these are people I see once, maybe twice a year. And to have them care about me enough to either ask why I planned to drop or to ask if I was okay made me feel great.

And a bit like an ass. I mean, some of these people I just don't care about enough to even think of until I see them at a race. Well, now that they've shown me this much kindness, I'm sure I'll be thinking about them for awhile.

Race Report:
A planned DNF, meeting the legend MikeWardian, and a day of volunteering. Wow. Where should I start?

Let's start with the planned DNF. Even though I was seriously considering attempting to run the whole thing right up until the start of the race, I realized (and my coach confirmed) that running the whole thing wasn't a good idea. Taking 2 weeks off to move and not quite being up to where I needed to be before that meant that I just wasn't at the training level I needed to be at to finish the race. Well, that's not entirely true. I knew I could finish the race, I just knew that my lack of training meant that I'd likely not make the cut-offs. So I started the race and turned around at the first aid station and ran back. It was a tough decision but it was one that I knew I needed to make. And at the end of the day, I was glad I made the right decision.

Meeting Mike Wardian was a great opportunity. I had sent a tweet ages ago when the race director did an interview on a show he helps produce but I never expected him to show up. He registered at the last minute and as soon as the news broke, I about crapped my pants. I mean, to see such a big name show up at such a small race is incredible. So as I directed cars into their parking spots, I got out of his and asked a question. I knew his voice right away from various podcasts and interviews but I didn't recognize his face. A beard, no backwards hat, and the pre-dawn light makes a great disguise. I caught up to him again as he was waiting in line for the porta-john and he offered to take a picture right there. Well, timing worked out a bit different and I managed a picture after he went. It must be weird to have people stalk you outside of a toilet waiting for a picture.

See? I told you I stalked him near the bathrooms.

When it came to volunteering, it felt nice to return something to the community. And better yet, to a race I really enjoy and have fallen in love with over the years. After all, this was my first 50k five years ago. So to be able to help out here and there felt nice. I did my best to take pictures of all the finishers and got to listen to some speedy people (and not so speedy) talk about their race. Wardian broke the course record then promptly turned around and ran a few more miles. The first female totally crushed the course record and came in 4th overall. Amazing to see these people run so fast. And just as amazing to see the slower folks tough it out over a long course on a hot day.

That's Joyce Ong in the pink. She's a fucking rockstar.


Temps were about 65F at the start and got up to about 75F at the end. Sky was overcast. Light breeze. High humidity.

Fluids and Fuel:
Had a banana, yogurt, and coffee before the run. Drank a serving of GenUCAN during the run. Recovery was another GenUCAN serving.

Aches and Pains:
Nothing really hurt. Generally felt good.

No special gear but I did wear my new JWalkingDesign kilt over my TStarRunning shorts. Got a few compliments on both.

Heart Rate:
Didn't wear my HRM but I'm sure I was in Zone 4 most of the time. After the first couple of miles I took more walking breaks but felt more at ease with the faster pace.

Mile 1 - 11:23
Mile 2 - 12:50
Mile 3 - 13:04
Mile 4 - 13:02
Aid Station - 7:36
Mile 5 - 11:36
Mile 6 - 11:56
Mile 7 - 13:05 (includes pee break)
Mile 8 - 12:41
Finish - 1:47:48