Month: May 2014

Rainier to Ruston 50

Rainier to Ruston

My next race is getting close. Like usual I’m starting to get antsy.  I’m running the Rainier to Ruston  50 Mile as an ultra.

I try to combine family vacations with races.  It helps when I’m usually the one planning our vacations (“What a coincidence honey, there is a cool race right next to our hotel!”)  This race is near my wife’s family, which I thought was important for us to visit this year.  Wonder what they will think of my race?

Since this is somewhat an urban race, my wife will be able to crew for me.  I’m excited about that, although she isn’t so sure.  I’m not sure what an ultra crew is supposed to do, but I’ll have one 🙂 !

This race is an all gradual downhill course at low altitude.  This will be my first 50 mile attempt, but the course description looks way less intense than my previous 50k races.  Still, that’s 18 miles further than I’ve ever gone before.

The antsy’ness of this stage always gets to me.  At the same time I’m nervous about going 50 miles (50 Miles! Wow), I’m sure I could do a 100 Miler.  I’m ready to go, I wish the race was today … but I need to train more.  I’m in perfect health for the race, but every cough and twinge must be a disastrous medical emergency.   If you’ve planned for a big event, you know these feelings.  I’m all coiled up and ready …

My biggest goal is to finish the race without leg problems.  I’ll experiment with a thigh compression sleeve, a knee strap and an IT knee strap.  If I can keep sharp pains from occur, then I can just concentrate on endurance.


Coffee Concentrate

Coffee Concentrate

The ‘concept’ of coffee concentrate seemingly will fit nicely in my coffee consumption schedule and my roasting schedule. This was supposed to be a simple and quick quest, do a little google kung-fu and then I’d have concentrate. Alas its taken me months of ardous research to develop my concentrate. Or maybe its taken me months because of other reasons …

I’ve mentioned before that now that I have a drum roaster, I can roast more beans than I could possibly drink. One way to increase the ‘volume’ of home roasting is to figure out a way to drink my home-roast at work. I’ve tried to brew at work but thats a hassle and its a little more pretentsious than I like to be. Plus I usually drink coffee because I want to get away from my office – so I make a trip to Starbucks with my laptop. I got this vision of developping a concentrate based drink that I could make and then go to a park to work.

For my roasting schedule, we flip back and forth between traditional french press coffee and espresso. I love espresso but there just seems to be a lot more romance in a micro-lot of beans from Sweet Maria’s that I don’t find in an espresso blend. So I roast ‘coffee’ for about a month or so and then roast ‘espresso’ for the next month. I figure at the end of my coffee cycle I could take the ‘coffee roast’ and turn it into concentrate. Then I’d sorta have both coffee and espresso available.

‘Intellectually’ the idea was compelling. However I had no idea what coffee concentrate was. My google Kung-fu got me several recipes which basically went along the lines of making french press coffee with cold water and then wait 24 hours. The problem with recipes that include “and wait 24 hours” is that 24 hours later I’m doing some other project. And I don’t have a huge inventory of roasted beans, I try to keep everything fresh. I can’t just grind away beans or I’ll be drinking Tea in the morning (bleah). My ability to run repeated experiments causes this simple experiment to take several months because of these roadblocks.

Experiment #1: My first concentrate recipe I found was about a cup of beans + 4 cups of water. Which is just about my normal french press recipe (should have been my first sign). I made the concoction and stuck it in my fridge. The next day I plunged it and tried some — Yum, water with a slight coffee taste!

Experiment #2: I identified the problem, I stuck the coffee in the fridge – the recipe called for setting out at room tempeture. Repeated the experiment, plunged it. Yum, water with a slight coffee taste!

Experiment #3: I knew I was doing something wrong, beans + water + some function = concentrate. I came across a recipe that gave more detailed instructions (probabably because I actually read them this time). 1 ounce of beans to 4 ounces of water. I whipped out my kitchen scale. Measuring by weight indicated I was way way low on beans – I was only using 1/3 of the beans I needed. I reran the experiment with 1/4 pound of beans and 2 cups of water. After waiting the perscribed 24 hours I plunged. A drinkable product came out! I made myself a cup and went to work. I came home and wanted to make a second drink to validate my findings. Unfortunately my wife spilled my container – it was all gone. If you ask her, I left the bottle out and didn’t put the lid on properly — so don’t ask her.

Experiment #4: 1/2 pound of beans:4 cups water. Wow, thats a lot of beans, the grinds fill up half of my large press, I wasn’t sure the water would fit. But now I have a decent amount of concentrate to experiment with.

I still have much experimentation to do on this and it will be slower going than I thought. There is about a week or two of time between each experiment. But I think I have a framework now to work with. I need to figure out the right ratio to “rehydrate” my concentrate and what the best way to serve this product. It seems to be a product that needs sugar, like a sweet ice coffee, but maybe thats because I was craving sugar at the time.

The Best Kept Free Secret Family Outing


This past weekend my daughters and I volunteered at Calico Racing’s Lovell Canyon race.  We try to volunteer at a couple of races each year.  If you haven’t worked an aid station before, you just gotta try it.

For me, as a runner, working an aid station is part ‘race day excitement’ and part ‘day at the beach’.  I love driving the course to my station.  Passing the starting line with the runners getting warmed up and driving to my table!  It’s also a great family adventure.  Wake up crazy early, drive to a remote area, and work and play for a few hours.

I think ‘day at the beach’ attitude is what you need to make this fun.  I’ve only worked races with a few hundred+ runners (I’ve never worked a major 10,000+ person race, it sounds more like work than fun).  The actual job is simple, fill up cups with drinks and hand it to runners.  But we want fun so we’ve started decorating with flamingos and wearing goofy looking hats, we cook ourselves breakfast, and just play the whole time.

The craziest thing is its free!  I’d pay to work an aid station and yet some Race Directors give out T-Shirts and credit for future races.  Really!  You are front line in a sporting event, participating, and its free!

Even if you aren’t a runner this should be a fun crazy thing to do with your friends and family!


Key points to keep in mind:

  • I like small time races.  You have a few of the fast runners, then the bulk of the crowd, then the stragglers.  Plenty of time to play.
  • Not all aid stations have chairs.  Bring your own.
  • You will be outside for hours.  It may be very cold at the start and very hot at the finish.  Even if it is rainy or windy, the race will go on.
  • Bring your own food.  Some directors might feed you but don’t count on it.
  • Race Directors are crazy busy on race day, and probably are living on caffeine so they might seem jumpy and grumpy – Show up on time or earlier and be helpful.
  • People running the race are generally out having fun, but they are racing.  Make sure your kids don’t slow them down.
  • Handing water to a runner who is racing can be challenging.  They don’t want to slow down and if you mess it up they won’t stop.  They’ll run the next 1-2 miles without water.
  • If you have time constraints, tell the race director in advance (NOT ON RACE DAY).