Monday, October 27, 2008

Northface Endurance Challenge Race Report

This past weekend I did my first ultramarathon, the Northface Endurance Challenge 50k. I know for most ultrarunners a 50k (31 miles) doesn't really count, but it is my longest to date and kind of a big deal. So here is the race report of a day that went from good to bad to worse to pretty ok.
Friday Sam and I left Kansas City around 7:45am and headed back to Wisconsin. We had to stop in Brookfield (a suburb of Milwaukee) for packet pickup. By the time we picked up the packet and made it back to my parent's house it was 7:00 pm, a long day in the car. We ate dinner with my parents and grandparents and got to bed. The 50k race didn't start until 8:00am so I got to sleep in until a reasonable 5:30. The day started off in the mid-40's, cloudy, and 15 mph winds.
This endurance challenge took place in southern Wisconsin at the Kettle Moraine State Park. It is rolling hills created when the glacier stopped, leaving behind all of the debris and creating kettle-shaped depressions across the landscape. Also left behind were lots of round rocks about the size of your head.
Sam and I ran the Kansas City half marathon a week earlier, I was well-rested, well-fed, and ready to go. The only indication of things to come was I had noticed my hip-flexors were tight and a little sore from the drive. It was cold enough that no amount of stretching was going to limber them up, I just hoped they would warm up in the first few miles.
Goals for the race. Since this was my first longer race goal number one was just to finish, my second goal was to break 6 hours. An 11:30/mile pace would put me under 6 hours, which assuming nothing went wrong was a doable goal.
Start to aid station #1, 0 to 1.7 miles: The first 0.7 miles was on the road shoulder and everybody went out FAST. I had the GPS and really tried to pace myself knowing that I would need to energy later. It is hard to pace yourself when people you know are aren't in very good shape blow by you. Either way the first mile was way too fast, closer to a road race time. Once we got into the trails and spread out a little I slowed back down and settled in for the long haul. No one stopped at the first aid station, I just thanked the volunteers. The course was an elongated clover leaf so I passed through that first aid station another 3 times throughout the race. It was cold and windy at the start and many people were wearing too many layers. Initially it was warm in the woods and many people shed lots of layers at the first station, I only had a t-shirt and light jacket which stayed with me the entire race.
Aid station #1 to AS#2, 1.7 to 6.2 miles: The terrain was flat wide snowmobile trails and fire lanes through the moraines. Slightly rolling hills with a few greasy and sandy sections. There were a few groups of guys with too much energy and wouldn't stop talking. A half hour of incessant chatter about work, promotions, and people I don't know or care about was all I could take. I ended up going faster to put some ground between. Once I was alone it was a very nice day for a run. The birds were talking, wind blowing in the trees, an occasional rattle snake bothered by the people. My pace was right on, heartrate a little high from being sick the previous week, and some tightness in my hip-flexors. Since I am a salty sweater and prone to cramping, s-caps were the name of the game. The plan was one per hour along with some salty snacks at the aid stations.
Aid station #2 to AS #3, 6.2 to 11.1 miles: The terrain was more of the same slightly rolling hills with a wide course. The hills were covered with round rocks and leaves, but at the pace I was running I didn't really have to worry about falling. Everything went well except for the growing tightness in my hips. Mile 10.33, one third finished, I treated myself to another s-cap. Sam walked out to the main aid station to see me come by a few times during the first half of the race. After I came through at mile 11.1 she stuck around and helped at the aid station for the half marathon and 10k runners. It was a long cold day to hang out waiting for me and I couldn't have done it without her.

Aid Station #3 to AS #4, 11.1 to 16.5 miles: After leaving AS#3 the course went into a hilly single-track section for a couple miles. This was my favorite part of the day and my pace picked up a little from the similarity to where we normally run in Kansas. Somewhere around mile 15 the course dropped into open prairie. The wall for me came early and lasted a long time. Not so much of a wall as my hip-flexors were on fire and every step made me cringe. I couldn't take a full step and settled into a pseudo-shuffle. When I stopped at AS#4 I noticed my right quad was cramping, I hadn't noticed before due to the pain in my hips. I popped a couple s-caps and took off again.

Aid Station #4 to AS #5, 16.5 miles to 22 miles: The course was in open prairie, wind was blowing, and hunters were shooting. Not in the distance, hunters were shooting within 100 feet of runners. I was wearing a yellow jacket so only the drunkest hunter would mistake be for game. After a few hundred gun shots it became background noise. This section seemed to take forever. My hips hurt and every step brought me farther from my goal time. There was a period of time I seriously considered taking the sag back. I couldn't face the nerds after dnfing a 50k so I kept going. Towards the end of this section we climbed the largest hill on the course and I could see for miles. There was a bench at the scenic overlook that was very inviting, I just gritted my teeth and limped to AS#5. I took a little time at AS#5 for a few glasses of water and food. Those boiled potatoes did not look good all day.
Aid Station #5 to AS #6, 22 to 27.3 miles: I walked for a few minutes and then the clouds parted (figuratively, in reality it was getting colder and windier), the pain in my hips was a dull throb, my head was clear and legs ready to run. So for the first time since mile 15 I took off. I wasn't breaking any records and it didn't look like I would break 6 hours, but I was having fun again. I even started passing some people. AS#6 I just grabbed water and was off again. By this point the sky was getting really dark, the wind had picked up, and I was really glad and end was near.
Aid Station #6 to finish, 27.3 to 31 miles: I felt pretty good. My hips still hurt but my legs still had energy. The S-caps I had been taking throughout the day must have worked because any slight cramps never developed into anything bigger. The finish was a good sight to see. My mom had driven out to see the finish and was waiting with Sam.
So here's the aftermath. 157 people registered, 118 started, and I was 76th in a time of 6:10:09, averaging 11:51/mile. While it wasn't blazing speed it was good to fight through everything and finish. So, my feet were in great shape with no blisters and I didn't fall down or sprain anything. Afterwards my hips are still sore but muscle-wise my legs are in good shape.
One the way back to KC we stopped and picked up a selection of beers. This week will be stretching and holding 12oz ice packs on my recovering body. Octoberfest is my favorite time of year.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Concrete Sink is INSTALLED

This morning I worked in the yard getting things ready for winter. Hard to believe since today was in the 70's. Later Jared came over and helped carry the sink into the bathroom. This way I can hook up the fixtures and install the copper bottom later this week. Everything fit and looks good. Here is a shot with the fixtures sitting in place.
The inlay tile and floating reveal.
Jared had a leftover piece of finished walnut the correct thickness. The walnut panels are designed to sit flush with the countertop surface.
Sink and backsplashes.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Running and concrete

That pretty much sums up saturday. Sam and I did the Kansas City half marathon in the morning. Sam got a PR of 1:56. We had perfect fall weather and I spent the day polishing the countertop with the garage doors open. Polishing is DONE, yippee!
So after polishing I decided to test fit the fixtures and realized I pulled a "John is a moron" moment. When I measure for the fixture knockout holes I only measured the diameter of the faucet. However, the supply handles have a bigger diameter. Well some quick thinking and a trip to Harbor Freight for masonry hole saw fixed the problem. From the picture you can see the new hole on the left is much bigger than the original.
OK, we are back on track. Tomorrow I plan on putting in the sink and start installing fixtures. Once the patina chemicals get here I will install the copper piece.

Friday, October 17, 2008

The ongoing saga of the concrete countertop

Not really a saga, but here is the update. Yesterday the patina chemicals still didn't come. A shot of the bright copper trimmed and ready for install.
The concrete has been sealed, the main section has yet to be buffed out. I started buffing out the backsplash pieces and they are glow in the dark shiny. The sink isn't bowed in the picture, the copper piece is just sitting in there waiting to be glued down.
Once the chemicals show up we will be shortly ready for install. No more brushing teeth in the kitchen sink, what a novel concept.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

More Stuff from the Mailman

Yesterday the wood trim kit for the Z3 came.
The custom cut copper piece came for the bottom of the sink. I ordered special chemicals to create the blue/green patina. While staining the bottom of the sink it started to look like oxidized copper so I figured why not put it in.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

No Concrete Countertop Yet

While working on the sink coloring I came up with a "great" idea this week. I told Sam I was using my artistic license. Then she reminded me I am an engineering and not an artist, so the last changeorder has been issued. We are still shooting for installation next weekend. If that doesn't happen I may be buying another convertible. I am waiting on my great idea to get here, it will be cool.
So Saturday I worked on the small cabinet that will cover up the top section of the brick wall that is bowed. Three of the shelves will be covered by sliding doors and the bottom shelf will be open with the brick exposed to the back. The corner pieces are just reinforcement until the glue dries.
I got the rest of the bath accessories installed too. The little things are starting to get done and it is starting to look more finished.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Yay the mailman is here

I have been ordering lots of stuff on-line lately. First we got the luggage rack for the car, pretty cool.
The bath accessories showed up. They came from Germany and took a little while. The birch wall got a few coats of marine varnish to protect against wet towels. The varnish is pretty cool, it protects against boiling water.
Short people have to use the short hook.
Now I know where to go to the bathroom.
And the best thing of all. My speed racer mach 5 cereal bowl came in the mail. I have been waiting FOREVER.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Air on the Ranch is Changing

Nights are getting cooler and the leaves are starting to drop. Sorry about the big gap between posts. Not that we have been slacking off but the finishing work on the countertop doesn't produce fun pictures. Friday night we met up with some friends and went down to the american royal bbq competition. A friend of a friend got us into the Worth Harley Davidson tent. Music was playing, beer was cold, and the ribs were unlimited. As Jared said, must have been a big problem.
Saturday night Bob Meyers our realtor invited us to see Charles Phoenix at the TWA museum sponsored by KC Modern. There was a slide show of 1950's KC landmarks, a vintage TWA flight attendant fashion show, and Charles presents old mid-century slides he has acquired. He is a regular guest on Martha Stuart.
TWA was based out of Kansas City and still has the museum here. The crown jewel is one of the only Lockheed Super Constellation planes in flying condition. It has been restored inside and out. Seating was old airport benches.
A current view of the ranch. All of the native grasses are flowering for the year.
Sam got the itch and decided to do some painting. Nera was helping prime.
We selected a light grey. The far wall will probably go a little darker with an accent stripe or two.
The past few weekends have been spent grinding and polishing the countertop. Lots of work with not much to show for it. The entire countertop has been wet-polished through 1500 grit and is very smooth and shiny. I have been looking at other countertops and decorative concrete and decided to add a little color.
First coat of blue acid stain. Since the concrete is very high strength and low permeability, it will take many applications to get the color I want. The stain is much brighter when it is wet and becomes more muted after washing.
Another coat of blue. I am going for a random light coloration.
Aaaah! No just kidding. After an application with a light green and tan. The wheat tan color goes on orange. After the extra is washed off it will blend in.
Just wait it will look cool. This week I will finish staining. End of this week and next weekend will be sealing and then installation.
At the advice of the resident structural engineer, the vanity went from floating to supported on four legs. Not that we questioned my vanity construction, just the stability of the studs.
Various trim project have been completed. Most notably we can shut and lock the bathroom door, ooooooo. Next week all of the bathroom hardware should show up, hooks, towel racks, toilet paper holder. We are getting closer.