Right foot nerve again

I have been having issues with the nerve on the ball of my right foot for about the past week, similar to late last summer. Interestingly, this time around, I’m noticing the discomfort more so with running than with climbing, which is the opposite of what I reported last September. The lack of issues while climbing could be because of my shoes — last summer, I was climbing in Scarpa Force Vs, while lately, I’ve been wearing a pair of Tenaya Araís. Maybe the latter just agree with my feet better. The Scarpas are awaiting a resole, so I won’t be able to test that theory any time soon. It could also have something to do with my footwork, which I believe has improved over the past year or so.

Where running is concerned, I think I should adopt a new motto: “It’s the gait, stupid”. I started today’s run with a metatarsal pad on my right foot. Metatarsal pads have their place, and I’ve found that they often help with walking, static standing, and driving. Today, though, the pad seemed to aggravate the problem nerve. Two miles into the run, it was really bothering me, so I stopped to take the pad off. The nerve was still painful without the pad initially, and I was thinking I might have to cut the run short. Then, I noticed that on the right side, I seemed to be landing and pushing off towards the outside of the foot. I corrected that, mentally trying to engage the side of the foot towards the big toe, and the nerve discomfort improved significantly. Doing that must take pressure off whatever nerve is irritated. Flexing and relaxing my toes frequently, to keep them loose, also seems to help. Ultimately, I was able to complete my planned distance of 10K.

All of this has me wondering what is causing this recurring issue. It could be a combination of things: gait irregularities when walking/running, poor climbing footwork (climbing on the balls of my feet instead of the toes), etc. Hopefully, as I work to correct these, I’ll start seeing this problem less frequently. In the meantime, travel and other activities are going to prevent me from running or climbing as frequently as usual over the next couple of weeks, which might be a blessing in disguise, as it’ll give my feet a little bit of a break.

New Thermostats

When we bought our house in 2001, it had an old Weil-McLain boiler with two heating zones – one for the main floor, and one for the basement family room. The boiler water temperature was kept at the “high limit” setting of 180°F, and each heating zone had a line-voltage thermostat wired directly to the zone’s circulator pump. This was a “non-standard” setup to say the least. Around 2003 or 2004, at the pinnacle of my DIY home-improvement kick, I converted to a more conventional system with transformers and low-voltage thermostats, installing a Honeywell “Chronotherm IV” programmable thermostat on the main floor and a manual mercury-switch thermostat in the basement. In 2006, we replaced the boiler and split the main floor into two zones: one for the living areas, and another for the bedrooms. I moved the Chronotherm into the bedroom, upgraded to a new touch-screen thermostat in the living room, and left the mercury thermostat in the basement, and that’s how things stood for almost 18 years. Now, I’m looking at upgrading to newer thermostats that we can access remotely and tie into a home automation system. For starters, I bought two Sinopé TH1400ZB heating thermostats to use for the basement and bedroom zones. To make a long story short, these thermostats require a common (C) wire, but inexplicably, when I rewired everything for low voltage back in 2003-2004, I only ran 2-conductor thermostat wire. So, I spent a good part of an afternoon last weekend pulling out the old basement zone wire and replacing it with 3-conductor wire. Today, I did the same thing with the bedroom zone wire, and the living room wiring is still TBD. I’m not sure what my thinking was back then, but I definitely wasn’t thinking that my rather short-sighted decision would create more work for me in the future. I probably thought that my (then) state-of-the-art power-stealing Chronotherm and battery-powered VisionPro thermostats would never need to be replaced, or that the eventual replacements would run on 2 wires. In any case, the moral of the story is: when wiring thermostats, always run a common wire, even if you think you don’t need one. 😀

Airport Loop Run

I finally ran the BWI Trail loop today, accomplishing a goal that I first set for myself last summer. Various sources list the trail’s length at anywhere from 10 to 12.5 miles. I mapped it at 10.7 miles on gmap-pedometer.com, but my actual running distance, according to my Apple Watch, was 10.5 miles. I started and ended at the Lindale Middle School (formerly Andover High School; my alma mater), and ran clockwise, at an average pace of around 10:30/mile. The temperature was in the low-to-mid 40s, with wet pavement after some overnight showers, but no major puddles or washed-out areas. Being that it was a weekend, I saw several other bikers, runners, walkers, etc. (particularly around the Thomas Dixon area, which is the most popular place to park) but not as many as I would have seen on a warmer day. The run felt fairly easy — while the route has some rolling hills, the total elevation gain is only about 400′, compared to 700′ or so for my usual 10-mile route closer to home. I could definitely see myself running here more often, although unlike home, there are no shortcuts, so I have to make sure I can commit to running at least 10 miles.

I’ve decided that my running goal for 2024 is going to be to run a half marathon, or 13.1 miles. Given the distances I’m running now, I think it’s a realistic goal, but I also think it will require me to pay more attention to what I eat and drink before, during, and after my runs.

Orinoco Ethiopia Yirgacheffe

  • Beans: “Ethiopia Yirgacheffe”
    • Medium roast
    • Roaster: Orinoco Coffee & Tea, Ltd. (Jessup, MD)
    • Roast date: Unknown (best by 10/28/24)
    • Purchase date: 2/20/24
  • 20g coffee / 300g water (1:15)
  • JX: 30 (90 clicks) for V60; 13 (39 clicks) for AeroPress
  • Water at 95°C
  • Recipe: Single Cup V60 Pourover, Light/Medium Roast AeroPress (TBD)

Taking some time to get this dialed in with the V60. I started at grind setting 20, and it was way too bitter. I brewed a couple of cups around 25/26, and they were less bitter, but still lacking. I backed off to 30 today (2/23) and it was the best cup so far, but seems like it could be better. The V60 drains really quickly at this setting: it is mostly finished by 2:30.

For AeroPress, I used this recipe with 250g water, 17g coffee, and grind setting 13. The flavor was good, but it was a little bit lacking in body, so I’ll start nudging it finer.

2/24: Brewed AeroPress with grind setting 12 this morning, and it was unpleasantly bitter, which kind of surprised me, given how it turned out at 13 yesterday. This afternoon, I brewed V60 at setting 29, which seemed a little better than 30. Will try at 28 tomorrow.

2/25 (morning): (V60) bitterness creeping in at 28. Seems like 29/30 may be the best setting. Could this be an issue with the beans being too “fresh” again? I wish I knew the exact roast date..

2/25 (afternoon): Went back to setting 29 with V60, and it was the best cup I’ve had to date. The only difference from yesterday afternoon’s cup was that I stirred the grounds with a spoon during the bloom phase instead of swirling.

2/27: Even 30 was bitter yesterday!! 32 was better today, but thinking 31 might be the sweet spot (today, at least 😀). This was the first time I had ever used a setting coarser than 30. These beans are behaving similarly to the last two bags of Zeke’s beans that I started brewing just a couple of days after the roast date. This lends credence to my theory that they may have been too “fresh” when I started brewing them.

3/1: I never quite figured out how to get a consistently good cup with these beans with the V60. However, I brewed a very good cup with the AeroPress this morning: 17g beans to 240g water (around 1:14), Prismo + metal and paper filters, 95°C water, JX grind setting 15 — pour 50-55g, stir, bloom until 0:45, top to 240g, stir 4x, steep until 3:00, stir 4x, press slowly. This cup was full-bodied and strong, with good flavor. That was the last of the beans, but noting this as a good starting point for when I eventually buy more of them.

Run notes

My runs lately have not been all that noteworthy. I’ve been averaging 3 runs per week, and my runs are typically 6-8 miles, sometimes more, sometimes less. Today, I ran 10 miles for the first time since early December, and it was a really good run. I ran at a fairly relaxed pace, finished strong, and felt like I could have kept going. Can’t ask for much more than that. After a few setbacks last fall that resulted in me scaling back my weekly mileage, I feel like I’m finally back to where I was back around September/October. If all goes well, I may try running the 10.7-mile BWI loop soon.

Zeke’s Love Roast No. 9 V60

  • Beans: “Love Roast No. 9”
    • Medium/Light roast (3/8)
    • Roast date: 2/5/2024
    • Tasting notes: Raspberry Wine
  • 20g coffee / 300g water (1:15)
  • JX: 20 (60 clicks)
  • Water at 99°C
  • Recipe: Single Cup V60 Pourover
  • Drawdown finished around 2:40

This was a very good cup right out of the gate. It was maybe a touch on the strong side, but that’s not a bad thing. I don’t think I need to make any adjustments for my next cup.

I’m noticing a trend with pourovers where the cups start off really good when the beans are fresh, but then I have to start tweaking things (typically grinding finer) as the beans get further past the roast date. Sometimes, I end up switching to immersion (AeroPress). It will be interesting to see what happens with these beans. I’m storing them in a vacuum canister, which ostensibly should keep them fresh longer, but that doesn’t seem to have made a difference with other beans. Maybe I’d be better off freezing beans that I can’t use within a week. It might be fun to try buying a pound of beans, freezing half and storing the other half in a vacuum canister, and see if there’s any difference with how the cups taste after a couple of weeks.

2/12: Things here are going similarly to how they went with Zeke’s Holiday Roast. Both are light to medium roasts, and with both, I brewed my first cups just a couple of days after the roast date. Initially, the cups were very good at grind setting 20. Then, they started tasting bitter, and I had to adjust by grinding coarser. Today, I backed off to grind setting 25 (an extra half turn), and that did the trick — it was a good cup, similar to my first. I’m not sure what chemical process (out-gassing?) causes this phenomenon, but it doesn’t really matter, as long as I can adjust my process to account for it. In particular, at least in the case of light-to-medium roasted beans from Zeke’s, maybe I need to let them “age” until about a week past roast date, then start them off at grind setting 25 or so. In any case, it will be interesting to see if I need to make further adjustments as the beans get older. I have them in a vacuum canister, but they’re the only whole beans I have right now, so I’ll probably go through them kind of quickly.

2/15: Still making things coarser. I have worked my way to 27 as of this morning, 10 days past roast date, and it wasn’t bad.

2/16: The relentless bitterness is still working its way into my cups. Even 28 was bitter this morning, so this afternoon, I backed all the way off to 30 (3 full rotations), and that seemed to chase the bitterness, at least for now. 30 is the grind setting I typically use with the French press, but it was my first time grinding this coarse using the pourover method. It’s at the very end of the pourover range on the 1Zpresso grind chart. I’m curious if I’ll ever get to the point where I can go several days without adjusting the grind, but whatever the case, this has been educational.

2/19: I have used grind settings between 29 and 30 for my last several cups, and they have all been pretty consistently good. The beans are two weeks past roast date as of today. They’re the only ones I have right now, so they won’t last much longer. However, I’ve learned that for more consistent results, I should probably let lighter roasts “age” until about 10 days past roast date before I start brewing them.

Rise Up Organic House Roast AeroPress

  • Bean info and V60 pourover notes
  • 16 to 17g coffee to 250g water (around 1:15)
  • Prismo with metal and paper filters
  • Grind setting 12 14
  • Water temperature 95C
  • Add coffee, start timer, pour 45 to 50g water
  • Return kettle to base, stir to wet grounds evenly, and bloom until 0:45 (I just left the stirrer in the AP for this step)
  • Top to 250g water and stir front to back 4 or 5 times, finishing around 1:15
  • Cover and steep until 3:15
  • Stir front to back 4 or 5 times again
  • Press gently, finishing around 4:30

This is pretty much the same technique I used with Zeke’s Hippie Blend (a light roast) recently, except I stirred instead of swirling during the bloom step, and I also steeped it about 45 seconds longer. This cup was not bad, but tasted slightly over-extracted, so I’m probably going to want to grind the beans a little bit coarser next time. I’m thinking about trying setting 14.

2/8: I’m almost out of the beans, but noting for posterity that setting 14 was pretty good. I didn’t steep quite as long (maybe until 3:05) but doubt that made any difference.

Ride Notes

Bad weather and scheduling conflicts conspired to keep me off the bike in January, with the exception of several commutes to work and one mountain bike ride. That changed today, as I took a ride out to West Friendship and back by way of Ellicott City, logging just over 40 miles. The temperature was right around freezing when I left the house at 7:45, and in the mid 40s by the time I got home, with beautiful sunny skies and light winds. The end of the ride brought me through Old Ellicott City and Patapsco Valley State Park (via the Grist Mill Trail), both of which were hopping this morning. I had intended to ride my Surly, but the rear tire was flat, so I rode my Masi single speed instead. That made for a more challenging ride, particularly once I got to the rolling hills of Turf Valley and points west. It was a great workout for the quads, though. I found 3 geocaches along the way, which gave me an opportunity to get off the bike. My back/left hip has been acting up lately, and was definitely letting me know when it was time to stand up and stretch.