Archive for September, 2013

Just me and my watch

September 29, 2013

I did trail maintenance yesterday, so I couldn’t go to practice. Which meant I had to do my long tempo run this morning. It’s 6 weeks to the SB marathon and I couldn’t skip my long run. Even though I’m only a pacer I still need to train to run harder.

Yesterday I asked a friend what the workout had been: 8 miles at MP from Goleta Beach. I haven’t done any runs yet longer than 18 miles so I figured I needed to get in 20+ today.

It’s been hot recently, and I didn’t want to run in the heat so I wanted to go early. Unfortunately the days are short and it’s dark early, so a balance must be struck. I don’t want to run MP in the dark, but I can do my warmup.

I parked my bike at the school 4+ miles from Goleta Beach at about 6:15 (in the dark) and trotted down the bike path to the beach. Then I turned around.

I set off running back up the bike path. After a bit I look at my watch. It tells me I’m doing 9 minute miles (I’ve got on my distance glasses, and the watch is too close for them so I can’t read it well, but I see the first digit.). This will never do. I try to speed up. Now it tells me I’m running 9:61 miles — even slower (I don’t twig to the fact that you can’t run 9:61, that would be 10:01 or something; I’m just annoyed at my watch and not thinking). I reach the spot where the quarter mile mark used to be (or where I think it used to be). It’s been 1:34 minutes or ~6:20 pace. Too fast. The area on the watch labeled pace tells me 9:57 — OK, it’s stupid. I shan’t look at it any more.

I wish I weren’t alone. It’s always easier to have someone to run with, but it’s even more important when the watch is spazing out.

The first mile is 6:34. A little too fast.

The second mile is 6:46. A little too slow. I glance at the pace area and see it is reading 8:88. It dawns on me that I’m reading it wrong. It doesn’t say 8:88, it must say 8.88 and it must be showing speed rather than pace. Damn it. I don’t have my speed⇒pace conversions memorized. And I’m not going to try to fiddle with changing the settings in the middle of a run. I’ll just have to pretend it’s an old fashioned stopwatch and click off my miles.

6:43. And then the turnaround, time to run back. 6:55. Arg! too slow.

I’m slowing down. Last year I could run 8 miles at 6:40 pace with no trouble. This year I struggle to run 6:45. Sigh, I expect to lose about 4 seconds a mile on my pace for every year. Oh, and last year my watch tended to tell me I was running 3~4 seconds/mile too fast. So that accounts for about 8 seconds. Running 6:45 is actually pretty good…

I finish in 54:05 which is 6:45~6:46 average. Slower than last year, but understandably slower. Sigh.

Then I puttered around and did another 10 miles easy. I ran round the lagoon, out to More Mesa, around Hope Ranch and finally back to my bike.

Trail Maintenance

September 28, 2013

I usually don’t bother with trail maintenance. I my opinion our trails are fine as they are. I made an exception after the Jesusita fire because I was told the fire had damaged them. But generally when someone asks me to do maintenance I will say “That trail doesn’t need work; Arroyo Burro needs work, but none of the others does.” And for years that has been appropriate — but today they wanted to work on Arroyo Burro. Which does need work. So I felt I had to go.

We gathered at the top of Ontare Rd. at 8 o’clock. And we continued to gather there until about 8:45 when we finally got into city/county vehicles and carpooled through the locked gates and up to the powerlines near the 420 rock. At that point we waited again (one of the vehicles couldn’t climb the last hills and the people in that car had to be shuttled up to us). Then we had a little talk on safety. Picks are dangerous, and even the hoes we used are sharp — so we should space ourselves out on the trail and make sure people working knew when someone was passing. Then a discussion of what we were to do.

I think a trail needs to be about a foot wide, and not overgrown. If it is then I’m happy. These people want the trail to be 4 feet wide with at least a foot of cleared space (two feet even better) on either side. This is probably why I disagree about the need for maintenance — there’s almost always a foot-wide trail, but rarely a 6 foot trail…

Then we divided into groups, 5 groups of 6 people spaced along maybe half a mile of trail (the trail goes up for perhaps 4 miles beyond the 420 rock — we weren’t going to get it all). Then we started hiking. Once we got to our spot we had another lecture on what to do.

I started using my hoe after 9:30.

The trail is steep and overgrown. By their definition it has been washed out. Our job was to clear away the brush — uprooting shrubs, and pulling out dead vines (and then piling them on the downslope side of the trail) — and digging into the hillside above the washouts to fill in the trail below.

Before: Brush has been partially cleared in the foreground, but the trail dips into a washout where the guy is standing.
After More brush cleared, and trail bed more nearly level (it should have a slight camber so rain will run off the edge)

No one had worked on this trail since the Jesusita fire (probably much longer than that), and there was a lot of ravel. Also there was a lot of ash and charcoal lightly buried. The fire was more than four years ago… Strange to see that ash again…

At Work

Oh, there was a cruise ship in the harbor today
Cruise Ship

It was a hot day, but there was a breeze. It could have been worse.

We took a break after an hour. After two hours we completed a section and our group leader decided that was enough for today. No one argued. We started back, but ran into the group below us who were going to work until noon, no matter what, so we found a little more we could do. And we did it.

I was a bit dismayed by how little we had accomplished. Not that we hadn’t worked hard, we had, but there is so much more to do. We (all 5 groups) might have worked on a quarter of the trail. So now about half a mile? or three quarters of a mile? of Arroyo Burro looks nice (a bit wider than I think is needed, but they pointed out that no one will work on it for maybe another ten years so the wider the better) but the next three miles need work.

We didn’t get to the section which I think is overgrown.

So I can still use Arroyo Burro as an excuse not to work on the other trails, and that is a relief.

Artisanal Brioche

September 11, 2013

I could not find a brioche recipe based on a traditional yeast starter, so I decided to make up my own by combining several receipts and guessing.

½ cup of yeast starter
½ cup buttermilk
1 cup of flour

Allow these to sit for an hour or two, until the mixture becomes bubbly (this is essentially turning the starter into more starter with a bit more Lactobacilli).

4 cups flour
zest of one orange
5 eggs
¼ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
3½ sticks of very soft butter (⅞lb)

Mix together and knead. Cover and refrigerate overnight (this develops the sour taste). Remove and knead briefly.

Place in two long thin buttered brioche pans (if you use a traditional bread pan the edges are likely to scorch before the center cooks). Allow to rise for 3~4 hours.

Cook 35~40 minutes @375.