Wednesday, October 26, 2011

60% Whole Wheat with Oatmeal and Chia Seeds

Baking bread is something of a hobby for me.  It's one of the reasons I could never become a "Paleo" dieter - grains are off the menu.  The reasoning seems sound, but frankly I like grains and legumes and that is that.

Anyway, today I made my first original recipe bread.  I'm actually sure it's not original, but I don't have a recipe for it, rather I applied techniques I've learned by baking from the book Bread.  That book isn't for everyone, but it sits squarely in my wheelhouse going into meticulous detail and teaching why a baker would do something.  It's written more for the professional baker, but I have found that it suits for my kneeds.

One of the reasons I like the book so well, the recipes are all written to scale; every amount is given for large batch cooking, home baking and as a percentage of the total weight of flour.  That means that if you use 1 kilogram of flour and a recipe calls for 68% water, you know you need 680 grams (or ml) of water.  Guess work gone.  That's tremendous.

Here's the recipe, I'd give cups and tablespoons, but I use a scale because of the variability in weight of a cup of flour.

Prefermented Flour.
300g Whole Wheat Flour
200g Bread Flour
3g Yeast
500g Water

Simply mix the ingredients above in a bowl and let them sit on the counter overnight.  It's likely you'll see a ring indicating the dough inflated and deflated overnight.

150g Rolled Oats
50g Chia Seeds
40g 24g Salt
180g Water

This also got mixed the night before.  Use hot water, allow to cool on the counter, then stick in the fridge.

Final Dough.
300g Whole Wheat Four
200g Bread Flour
90g Water
50g Honey

Combine all of the above ingredients together in a bowl and kneed for a while.  (I usually look for 10 minutes of 600 strokes whichever comes first.  The gluten will develop more as the dough rises.)

I let the dough rise for probably 2.5 hours and I folded it twice during the rise.  Your results may vary depending on the temperature of your house. Once risen, preshape the dough into rounds and then form whatever type of loaf you like.  Pan loaves, I like hearth loaves, rounds...

The final rise took this dough 1.5 hours during which time I ran a couple of errands.

Cook in a hot oven with a pan of boiling water on the bottom shelf.  The recipes I used suggested 450 degrees, but my oven has temperature marked out as 5,4,3,2, and 1.  I had the setting on 4.  Bake for 40 or so minutes and allow to cool before cutting.  The hardest part.

I can report that this bread is delicious and the chia seeds give a really nice texture to the bread.

Thanks for reading and feel free to send me your bread recipes, I'd like to see what you like.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A little bit of Ugh and thinking ahead.

So, I'm sitting here wallowing in something resembling self pity.

I want to get out running, but I don't want to risk re-injuring my foot.  It still hurts when I walk around.  It's getting better.  I can can curl my toes back with a minimum of pain in the top of the foot, but there's still pain.  It also seems slightly swollen too.  Frustrating.

I never did get an xray on my foot, but based on the opinion of two doctor friends, I most likely cracked my 3rd metatarsal.  They also opined that there isn't a great deal you can do for an injury like that.  Stabilize it as best you can and try hard not to do anything that makes it hurt.  A walking boot might have helped initially, but for reasons long and complicated I'm not a huge fan of those things.

I would say I'll wait until I'm pain free before I start running again, but one thing I've acknowledged during my 41st trip around the sun is that there is rarely a day where I'm truly pain free.  Something always aches.  That is the way of things.  If I don't have pain I can directly associate with the Blues Cruise injury, I'll try get out and run a few easy miles next Tuesday.  The way things are going, I think that's a reasonable expectation.

Looking ahead, I've decided that I'm going to register for the Leadville 100 the minute registration opens.  I wouldn't be surprised if this year their slots fill very quickly.  My friend from the Steamboat 50 suggested I flagellate with a different 100.  One which is more scenic and less commercial.  Under normal access circumstances I would absolutely agree with him, but given that I live in a location where the constellations are all screwy I need to choose a race which has friends and family close by.

Anyway, my first steps in preparation for the Leadville 100 will involve an attempt to get faster.  I'm going to focus my first 26 weeks of training for Leadville on getting faster over the 10K and Marathon distances.  Once I've got a "speed" base established, I'll work on climbing strength and long distances with a hope of logging at least 4, 100 mile weeks in the time leading up to Leadville 2012.
When I started this blog, I had no intention of ever running 100 miles, but for some reason I chose a background image I took while doing a training run for the Steamboat 50.  The photograph was taken on the summit ridge of Mount Massive and off in the distance is Leadville, Colorado.

Thanks for reading and I'll see you soon Colorado.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Injury Update and a bit of review.

So at this point the Blues Cruise is 18 days in the past, but I'm still dealing with it's repercussions.  The pain in my foot from the original injury has subsided substantially, but isn't gone and there are new issues that are cropping up as a result of my modified gait.

At this point I'm making a conscious effort to not limp while I walk, but find it difficult to concentrate on that all the time.  All that whining aside, if the improvement carries on as it's been going, I think I'll resume running on Tuesday the first of November.  A full month without running, but a good time to start training again.

In other news, I got back to Bolivia yesterday.  A bit later than I was supposed to, but it's good to see Nataly and Deneb again.

Tuesday-Wednesday were a tremendously long travel period.  I woke up in Vermont at 5:45 AM to finish packing and my Mom and I were on the road to Albany airport at 7:20.  I took a flight from Albany to Fort Lauderdale, the train from Fort Lauderdale to Miami Airport, and then had a 5 hour sit in MIA.

My MIA to Bolivia flight departed on time, but about an hour and a half into the flight the pilot came on the intercom and declared one of the 2 layers of glass in a forward windshield had shattered and we'd be turning around.  He suggested that it wasn't a terribly good idea to go to La Paz with only one layer of glass protecting the cockpit.

Our landing featured quite a lurch, but we re-arrived uneventfully at MIA to a welcoming party of multiple police cruisers and at least 2 fire trucks.  We had to sit on the runway for a bit while the public servants went over our conveyance and eventually we taxied back to our gate.  We deplaned somewhere around 1 in the morning.

It took until about 2 for the airline to begin loading us onto our new plane, and there was a bit of a rush to do so because at 2:30 our crew wouldn't be able to make the trip.  The captain actually pulled away from the gate while there was a person or 2 still standing so that the flight wouldn't have to be cancelled.

Thank Zeus.  My phone was dead, my charger checked, and I had no way of telling my wife this harrowing tale.

It turns out a bunch of people on this flight ended up getting fairly well screwed, just not me so much.  Because of all of the delays, anyone going to La Paz got to spend the better part of the day in Santa Cruz because our flight crew had indeed hit their time limit and had to skip our mountainous destination.

Getting to Bolivia has never been one of the easier tasks I've undertaken, but seeing Nataly and Deneb when I finished with customs made everything leading up to it seem trivial.

Thanks for reading, and may you make all of your connections.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Grrrr...Occupy Wall Street

Ok, so...
This photo graced the Facebook page of a friend of mine.  Let's just say it got me fired up.
My response to Anonymous follows...

Congratulations for living in a State where your Public University is still Moderately Priced.  I worked in the Geology Department at the University of Colorado for 10 years and because of budget cuts, our Public University can no longer be considered Moderately Priced.

Congrats on your decent High School grades, but I was a National Merit Scholar Finalist, and didn't see a whiff of the scholarships you received - I got one for $200.  Glad that those scholarships covered your tuition - it'd probably help in Colorado.  Additionally, if you started saving for school when you were 17, er...?  Were it not for my family, I wouldn't have started school until I were in my late 20's, if at all.

I'm not entirely sure, but I expect all college students can say they live in a Cheap Apartment and also suspect that their Comfort is directly proportional to their tolerance for entropy.

I do applaud your restraint in controlling yourself when you walked by the Credit Card Vendors on campus, and am surprised that you don't have a Smart Phone, but will offer a Golf Clap for that as well...

No, you are not the 99%.  I expect you are more like the .0001%.  In my 10 years working for the University of Colorado, I know (for sure) only 1 person who obtained a significant portion of their tuition from Scholarships.  So, Congratulations Anonymous you're one blessed individual.
--/End Rant--

Thanks for reading and sorry, I don't usually get all political, but this was a bit much...

Friday, October 7, 2011

Race Report--Blues Cruise 50k: Lesson Learned.

Getting Up and Getting There
[Note - all photographs were provided free of charge by the race organization,, and]
From Erik's house, the race start for the Blues Cruise was about a 30 minute drive.  Packet pickup started at 7:30 and we wanted to eat a bagel and drink some coffee before hand so Erik set an alarm for 5 AM.  I figured I'd hear him puttering around so I didn't bother (I was on the couch in the living room).  When finally I did hear him, I took a look at my phone and discovered it was quarter to 6, a much more reasonable time for waking in my humble opinion.  It turns out Erik had had similar thoughts and decided 5 AM was a bit early and had set his alarm for 5:30.

Bagels were consumed, coffee drunk, and deposits in the water closet made.  We girded ourselves against the inclement weather that decided to arrive over the course of the night.  When we got up, though dark and impossible to see it sounded like it was pouring rain outside.  It was cold.  The rain eventually cleared out before the race started, though there were a couple of instances where a gentle shower passed overhead.

We left at 7, and got to the race start promptly at 7:30.  We'd checked in and had our numbers and pins no later than 7:35.  That left the better part of an hour to hang out and chat.  We went back to Erik's car.

Eventually the clock ticked over to 8:25 and the race director was marshaling the racers to the start.  Erik and I said good luck to one another and went our separate ways.  I took a position about 3 rows back and Erik chose more middle of the pack.  The race director said, "Ready! Set! Go!"


Race Start to Aid #1
I'm in the right middle of this pic to the left of the tie dye - white shirt, black (almost knee length) shorts.
Interestingly enough, the guy I crossed the finishing line with is right behind me.
The race went out faster than I was happy with, but not too much.  My first glance at my Garmin showed a low 7 minute pace and I was wanting something more along the lines of 7:45 so I eased off the pace.  The course quickly turned left onto some single track and tipped uphill.  A bunch of folks passed me, but I wasn't worried about placement at mile #1.  I was warm and into a sustainable groove.

By the time we arrived at mile 2, I'd warmed up enough that my shirt was uncomfortable and I'd hung it through the back of my visor.  Also by mile 2, I'd started hearing a bit from my stomach.  It was saying, "Dude, you know what?  I'm kind of hungry here.  Think we could get some fuel?"  This dialog would continue throughout the race, but I don't think it cost me any time.  At the start I ate a barely ripe banana, and wanted to grab a couple of gels, but I couldn't find any.  Obviously, I was pretty was anxious to get to the first aid station where I could get some sugary goo down my gullet.

I may have been one of the only people in the top 50 or so to stop there, and I took a moment to appreciate the aid station workers:  Jake and Ellwood Blues.  It actually didn't hit me at first; I was so focused on obtaining gel. By the time it did, I was just through the aid station.  I stopped and requested a song, but perhaps I should have asked if they had any rubber biscuits on the table.

Aid #1 to Ski Slope Hill
The remainder of the first third of the race was flat and relatively fast, but mud kept it from being really fast.  I was pretty efficient at the second aid station to the point where I neglected to appropriately acknowledge the workers there.  Darn it: Race goal #2 - Fail at mile 6.5.

The organizers had a number of folks on the course pointing out hazards and directing traffic.  Many of the bridges were quite slippery.  I was pleased with my Bikilas at how well they performed on the wet wood, but in the mud they weren't ideal.  Not sure any shoe would have fared well in that slop.

The first 10 miles featured three of the seven aid stations on the course.  That's right: seven aid stations for 31 miles.  Truly a well supported race.  I had actually considered running the race without a water bottle, but ended coming down on the side of caution.  Running dry would have had much more dire consequences than a sore shoulder.

Throughout this portion of the race there was always someone close by.  Either just in front of me or just behind.  A little positional shuffling occurred, but no great shakeout happened.  That changed on Ski Slope Hill.

Ski Slope Hill to Aid Station #7
The third aid station was located right at the base of the first real obstacle on the course.  I chatted with the volunteers and thanked them for being out in the crappy weather.  I grabbed a banana and a couple of gels, I also topped up my water bottle with lemon lime Gatorade.  That's the only time I put something other than water in my bottle and also the last time I'll ever drink that stuff.  It just tasted awful and I was in fluid avoidance mode all the way to the 4th aid station.
A young guy pulled up to me here who I'd alternate back and forth with for the rest of the race.  He noted that this was his first ultra, later he noted it was also his first marathon.  He had logged a couple of olympic distance triathlons, but good work young dude - at the finish he declared himself bitten by the ultra bug.

We left the aid station pretty much together, and I settled into a solid power hike.  Young guy tried running the first bit of the climb, but quickly dropped into a walk.  Power hiking was absolutely the right decision and I ended up blowing by a whole bunch of folks.  I don't know precisely how many, but by the top of the climb I was tucked into the position I would stay until pretty much the finish.  I think visiting it the day before with Erik really helped on this key section of the course.

I played leap frog with a few folks between Aid 3 and Aid 4; they'd pass me on the descents and I'd pass them on the climbs, but for each climb it would always take a bit longer for them to catch me.  By the time we went through mile 12, I was in 30th place.

Once through Aid 4, it seemed to take an eternity to get to aid station number 5.  Aid station 4 was at mile 13.5 or so and Aid 5 came after mile 18, I think that is the largest gap on the course.  I pretty much ran out of water and I had only taken 2 gels so by the time I got to the 5th aid station, I was fantastically glad to see the volunteers.

I ate a good sized chunk of banana here and this time I asked how far it was until the next aid station so that I would know how many gels to grab.  The aid workers didn't know off the top of their heads, but were kind enough to dig the info up quickly so that I had it when I set back out on the trail.  I took 3 gels with me and went back out.

The next part of the race I recall running large chunks without being able to see anyone either in front or behind me.  I eventually caught up to a guy who used to live in the area and had regularly ridden his mountain bike on the trails of Blue Marsh Lake.  He and I ran a mile or two together, and I commented to him that somewhere around mile 5 I realized I was running the race without medical insurance and really needed to take it easy on the descents.  I probably should have just kept my mouth shut.

He and I arrived at the stream crossing together at mile 19.  The water was cool, but not freezing cold.  It actually felt really good on my tiring legs.  I was a bit nervous, wading through the water, that there would be some hidden rock or danger that would send me sprawling, but I was able to cross without misadventure.

On the ensuing climb I left my companion behind and started thinking about how I'd go about finishing the race.  When would I start looking for the energy to kick for the finish.  I was actually feeling pretty good.  I knew that my 4:30 goal was gone, but the muddy conditions really took that off of the table for me before the race even started.

I did think that 4:45 was still possible and I decided that I'd try to get as close to that time as I could without totally cratering and losing even more time.  At the next aid station I took on board 3 more gels, thanked the workers and set out chasing my revised stretch goal.

Until this point I'd been taking extra care on the descents.  I tried to avoid big piles of leaves and run where I could see there was clear footing.  Along a descent somewhere around mile 25.4 there was no clear trail, just leaves, and I absolutely tattooed a rock hidden in the leaves.

My toes were curled up, so I hit the rock with the head of my third metatarsal on my right foot.  The pain was truly remarkable and I thought I'd broken the bone.  I limped to the bottom of the little descent and hung my toes over the side of a bridge.  I was happy to see that I could wiggle them fairly freely and continued on - not that there was much choice, the next aid station was one mile further along and I wasn't about to sit down on the trail.

Aid Station 7 to the Finish
I got to the last aid station sporting a rather pronounced limp, but I was sure I could finish.  They were serving perogies, and brats (I think), and had a jar full of pickles.  The Eagles were playing so I requested some pickle juice.  The volunteer laughed and poured off me a shot.  Mmmmm...Salty goodness.

I hit the trail for the final bit and started giving what I had left.  4:45 wasn't going to happen, but maybe I could still beat 5 hours and pull a few places back.

The young guy from the Ski Slope Hill aid station passed at the aid station, so I de-greeted the aid station workers and set out in pursuit.  I could tell I was slowly reeling the whippersnapper in when my foot made this wonderful, cracking/crunching sound which was accompanied by a grinding sensation.

I bleated a choice expletive and lurched to the side of the trail.  I stood there for a minute and thought about dropping.  I had a mile or so to go back to the last aid station and 3.5 to finish.  I decided I'd grit my teeth and press on, hell or high water I'd finish this race.

After a minute or two, the endorphins took the edge off and I was able to manage a "log" - part limp part jog. I even realized that while touch and go, I could probably finish in under 5 hours.  And I did.  It was painful and I had a while where I didn't know where the course went, but eventually I got there.  The guy I'd left behind at the water crossing helped point me in the right direction and asked after my well being.  I'm glad he came by when he did, because I was about to go off course.

At the Finish.
I crossed the finish line in the 59th minute of the 4th hour after the start of the race.  I ran this race faster than I ran the first half of the Steamboat 50, while finishing on a severely damaged foot.

My first stop after the finish line was the buffet table where I took on board a couple of raspberry tart kind of  cakes, a brat and a potato pancake.  I then went over to the paramedics who were kind enough to check the pulse in my foot and provide me with a bag of ice and some gauze to keep the ice in place.  I don't know if my foot is broken, but we're 5 days out now and the swelling is almost gone so I expect I just messed up some tendons.

Erik came in about an hour later.  He'd beaten his goal time of 6:30 by a full 11 minutes.  The Blues Cruise was also his second ultra in 4 weeks and his second ever ultramarathon.  You can read his report on his blog, it seems he's been bitten by the ultra-bug too.

I ended up finishing 30th overall and took home a rock which said Blues Cruise 5th place 40-49.

Lesson Learned.
Over all I enjoyed the race, but I don't see myself ever running a race in Five Fingers again.  Had I had more protection, I would have been able to run the descents more aggressively and I would not have suffered the injury at mile 25 which almost took me out of the race.

My Vibrams will still be my primary road shoe, but as long as I'm racing (not just out for a run) I won't be using them on the trail.  With a burlier shoe, I'm certain I'd have been in the top 20 of this race.  So, while I had a great time out there running the Blues Cruise, I'm packing a fair load of regret as well.

Oh well.
Thanks for reading, and consider "choosing your protection rather than your correction" (Eric Orton).

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Race Report Preamble

I haven't seen my friend Erik since 1987 when I moved to Vermont, but we've done stuff like this before.  From the 1985 Clinton sprint:
I'm trailing and Erik looks like he's going to take the win from my brother Charles.
I'm the one wearing the squirrel on his face.
Anyway, on to the tale of the weekend.  It started out with something of a bad omen. 

I had a bit of an adventure picking up the rental car.  Turns out that the foreigner with the Colorado drivers license wasn't welcome to rent an automobile with the presented plastic.  The problem sprung from the fact that I didn't bring an actual credit card from Bolivia, just the debit card I used to make the reservation.  I should have thought about that, but hindsight is 20/20 - something which will repeat itself in this report.

Fortunately, my Mom had taken me to the rental location and offered to rent the car herself and loan me her car for the weekend: Problem solved.  Thanks so much, Mom.  Without Mom, none of this could have happened.

Once I was with vehicle I drove to Ithaca, NY where my Dad was waiting to take me out to dinner.  I'd loaded the directions to his house into my phone before I left my Mom's house; that was a good thing too, because I couldn't find WiFi on my route (essentially: Interstates 87S and 88W).  My intention had been to get a sim card for my cell phone with a data plan, but when I asked after it (at a Radio Shack in Fort Lauderdale) I was told that no such "pre-paid" plans existed.  Um, I think somebody ripped me off...

Dinner was at an Italian restaurant in Ithaca named Lucatelli's.  My Dad recommended something called Combination Casserole a la Parmigiana (click through and you'll see the menu).  He said something like, "I ordered it once and it brought me to my knees."  I ordered it then ate some bread, soup, and a salad.  What I was presented with had more cheese than I was expecting total food.  I ate it all.  When she came to clear my plate, the waitress noted that, "I've worked here 6 months and have never seen anyone finish that dish before."  I had a bit of trouble breathing for a half an hour or so, but overall was pleased with the meal - the breathing problem was my own fault (perhaps another instance of foreshadowing).

After the meal, we returned to my Dad's place and I plead tired/full and hit the couch.  I wish I could have had the fortitude to keep myself up, but I was thinking ahead a bit too. 

I slept really well and the next morning Dad, his friend Erik and I went out to a breakfast at a greasy spoon where I enjoyed an artery clogging cheese and bacon omelette, some toast and home fries.  Dad and I then bid Erik adieu and we went to procure a hand bottle for my race and a little wooden airplane for Deneb.  Once that stuff was aboard the good ship Honda CrV, I hit the road for Berk's County, PA.

It rained for much of the drive, but overall it was easy getting there, though it took the better part of 4 hours.  I ate some salty snacks and powered back a bunch of water while driving, but didn't really have a formal lunch - not that I really needed it...

When I got to Erik's house I had to call because I was unsure which was their house, there were 3 stone houses all right in a row and I was unsure which one I had the doorbell I was supposed to ring.  Good thing too, when Erik answered he suggested I turn around - I had been wandering around and looking into the windows of the wrong house...

I brought my bag inside and was promptly introduced to Erik's wife Jane and his two great kids, Connor and Maddie.  Maddie was a bit shy at first, and I think Connor was hoping I'd join him for some Lego Star Wars - sorry man, next time.  I hadn't run since my morning jaunt in Fort Lauderdale on Thursday and I was starting to get a bit twitchy. 

It worked out pretty well actually because, for all the cycles being spent on Lego Star Wars, Mr. Connor had a birthday party to go to which happened to be on the way to Blue Marsh Lake, where the race was being held the next day.  Erik and I dropped Connor off and headed over to the most significant obstacle on the Blues Cruise course, "Ski Slope Hill".  

Erik lead out, and we were quickly onto some pretty sweet single track through the trees.  I was wearing my Vibrams and deemed the trail soft enough that I could run in them for the race.  Sure there were some rocks, but there was also lots of leaf litter to help cushion the impact and it seemed an easier surface than the road on my Bella Vista route.

Ski Slope Hill itself was runable in a short race, but I power hiked it with Erik.  It came 11 miles or so into the Blues Cruise, and I knew that I wouldn't be running it on race day, so it would be best to power up it.  Erik and I knocked out a half an hour and then headed back in the direction of the birthday party.

Erik and I picked up Connor, then headed back to his house.  Dinner would be at the Kutztown Tavern with Erik's parents.  What a treat!

Erik's dad coached a softball team for which both Erik and I played.  We were surrounded by girls.  We didn't really know what to make of that.  We played for the Yankees.  Ugh.
Erik back left, me back right and Erik's Dad back dead center.  The Yankees.
Anyway, I enjoyed a good old American Bacon Cheeseburger for dinner with a glass of birch beer to wash down my tasty meal.  Erik's mom chatted my ear off and I answered a bunch of questions about Bolivia, Deneb, Nataly and life in general.  Really good to see them...

After dinner we went back to Erik's house and chatted a bit while the kids got ready for bed.  They were settling down around 9 and I felt my battery was essentially discharged too and suggested I might be ready for a sleep as well.  I don't think it took me more than 10 minutes to fall asleep and I slept like a rock...

Thanks for reading and the real report will come tomorrow.
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