Climbing notes

Interesting evening of climbing last night. By the way it started, I figured I might be done after two climbs. I started out leading a 5.8 and a 5.10-, and just felt really awkward/hesitant/rusty on the wall. The “problem nerve” in my right foot wasn’t really happy after the first climb, which makes me suspect that my footwork wasn’t great, either. It just had all the makings of an “off” day. However, as I warmed up, my climbing improved significantly, and after climbing my third route, I felt much more confident. I ended up leading 5 routes and top-roping 1. I even climbed on the lead wall for only the second time ever. I think the moral of the story is that I need to spend a little bit more time warming up before jumping into climbing. I used to be pretty good about it, but lately, I’ve been falling off, partly just due to timing of when I get to the gym, when my climbing friends arrive, etc. When I’m rushed or on a tight schedule, the temptation is high to skip warm-ups and just jump right into climbing.

I have found that I really like climbing lead on overhung routes. Part of that has come out of improvements in my technique, as I’m able to do it without killing my forearms now. Also, for some reason, the fear of falling doesn’t seem quite as intense. It might be because the routes are more physically challenging, and take more concentration, which leaves fewer brain cells to think about falling. Also, I think there’s less risk of injury from falls on overhangs vs vertical/slabby routes, as you’re falling into space, and there are no holds, volumes, walls, etc. to potentially hit on the way down. Lastly, overhung routes put less stress on the feet than slabs, because the weight is distributed to different parts of the body. In fact, I occasionally find it challenging to keep my feet from falling off the wall. I think the trick there is to engage the core muscles to keep the hips close to the wall, something I probably need to improve at. Footwork (e.g. heel hooks vs toe hooks) and shoe choice also likely play a role.

Run Notes

I ran 10 miles this morning, in spite of not feeling quite 100%. My pesky (but productive) cough returned yesterday, as well as some sort of weird acid reflux that started during yesterday’s bike ride, although the latter seems to have abated. This morning, I woke up with a mild sinus headache, which went away after I got moving. I felt fine for most of the run, and managed a pace of 10:43/mile and cadence of 183 steps/minute, both of which are about normal for me for a run of this distance. I was my first 10-mile run in just over 3 weeks, and I was definitely dragging a little bit for the final 2.5 miles or so, although overall, I felt like I finished strongly. Hoping I can get back into running this distance on a weekly basis.

Ride Notes

I had originally planned to run this morning and ride tomorrow (Sunday), but a slight chance of rain tomorrow prompted me to switch things up. Looks like the weather is going to end up being a non-factor, though. I had not taken a 30+ mile biking/geocaching trek in quite a long time, mainly because I’ve been doing more kayaking on the weekends this fall. It’s finally starting to get too cold for that (for this season, at least) so in its place, I’ll be getting back to more hiking and biking, and by extension, caching. Today, I rode out to Columbia and Clarksville and back, for a round-trip of just over 33 miles. I found 3 caches along the way, and failed to find one. The temperature started out a little bit below freezing, and warmed up to the upper 30s while I was out. I wore my trusty REI convertible cycling jacket over a long-sleeve cycling jersey and 32° long-sleeve synthetic base layer, as well as Garneau cycling pants, wool socks, Altra Lone Peaks with warming insoles, lightweight balaclava, and liner gloves underneath open-finger cycling gloves. I rode my Surly Disc Trucker, and broke out the Bar Mitts handlebar pogies for the first time this season. They’re a bit of a pain to take on and off the bars, but they make cold-weather riding much more enjoyable. I’ll probably leave them on the Surly all winter and just use a different bike on warmer days. I was pretty comfortable for most of the ride, including a couple of brief excursions into the woods to look for caches. It was great to get out for a longer ride. Tomorrow morning’s weather looks very similar to today’s, and the plan is to shoot for a 10-mile run. Wish me luck…

Rise Up Maryland Pourover

  • Beans: “Organic Maryland Coffee” medium roast (Guatemala/Honduras)
    • Roaster: Rise Up Coffee Roasters (Easton, MD)
    • Roast date: 11/8/2023
  • 17g coffee / 250g water (1:14.7)
  • JX: 2 rotations (20 on the grind chart / 60 total clicks)
  • Water at 95°C
  • Recipe: A Better 1 Cup V60 Technique (see below)
  1. Preheat V60, pre-moisten filter, add coffee, and tare scale
  2. Make small indentation in center of coffee grounds
  3. 0:00: Pour 50g of water to bloom, then return kettle to base
  4. 0:10 – 0:15: Gently Swirl
  5. 0:45 – 1:00: Pour up to 100g total (40% total weight)
    • Hold kettle for the remainder of the brewing process
  6. 1:10 – 1:20: Pour up to 150g total (60% total weight)
  7. 1:30 – 1:40: Pour up to 200g total (80% total weight)
  8. 1:50 – 2:00: Pour up to 250g total (100% total weight)
  9. 2:00 – 2:05: Gently swirl
  10. Drawdown finished around 2:45

I bought this bag at the grocery store. Initially tried grind setting 21 with 18g coffee (1:13.8) but seemed a tiny bit under-extracted, so I tried today at grind setting 20. This seems like a reasonable starting point, but I can’t guarantee that I won’t try tweaking it further. Guessing these beans are roasted on the lighter end of medium, as the cup tasted kind of like a light roast in terms of body and flavors. I may even try pushing the water temperature up closer to boiling, as today’s cup had no hints of bitterness at all.

This, that, and the other

I finally felt like I was back at 100% for this morning’s run. I covered 8.7 miles at 10:35/mile and 183 steps/minute. My energy felt good throughout the run, and unlike my past couple of times out, did not feel tired or lethargic afterwards. I believe that the lethargy may have partially been a hydration issue. I have not been carrying water with me recently, because of the cooler temperatures, but today, I’ve been making an effort to drink a bunch of water over several hours following the run. There’s a nor’easter blowing through today, but I got out ahead of the rain, and only had to deal with some sprinkles. I’ll probably take a shorter run on Thursday (Thanksgiving Day) and then, if all goes well, I’ll shoot for a 10-miler on Saturday.

As I alluded to several weeks ago, I’ve converted Monday into a telecommute day during the winter months (likely until March, when we go back on Daylight Saving Time). It works out well with my Monday evening climbing, and also gives me an opportunity to do something other than running or bike commuting one morning per week. Yesterday, I took a mountain bike ride ahead of today’s rain. I was out for a while longer than I had planned, but I did check out the new Bloede Dam Trail, which runs from Garrett’s Pass out to Ilchester Road on the Howard County side of PVSP, with a shortcut down to the River Road Trail at about the midway point. The second half, past the shortcut, has some incredible views, but some of it is well above my skill level. I’ll be happy if I can eventually get to the point where I can ride most of it, but it’ll take some practice.

Running Improvement

I felt much more like myself running today than I had in the past couple of weeks. It was my first run in 4 days, mainly due to my schedule. I still have a nagging cough, but it has kind of gotten to where it’s more of a nuisance than an impediment to activity. Today’s weather was in the upper 40s with a slight breeze, and I wore long running pants, a long sleeve light wool running shirt, a windbreaker, calf compression sleeves, crew-height wool Injinji toe socks, a fleecy headband, and Vibram V-Runs. I did not wear gloves, and did not miss them today (they’re usually the first thing I end up taking off in this kind of weather). I ran 7.5 miles at a pace of around 10:50/mile and average cadence of 182spm. I felt like I could finally take deep breaths again without tripping my cough reflex, and I had more energy and was able to get my average heart rate up a little bit higher. It’s obvious that I’ve lost some conditioning over the past two weeks, but I feel like I now have the energy to start work on building that back up. I stopped a little bit shy of the end of my route, because I was starting to tire, and felt like I had already gone far enough. In spite of that, I was really happy with this run. My plan for the week ahead is to run Tuesday, Thursday, and probably Saturday, so I’ll see if I can continue to improve.

Stoney Creek Paddle

I had been hoping to get out for one more paddle this season, so I was happy I was able to make it happen this morning. I decided to check out another new-to-me launch, namely Green Haven Wharf in Pasadena. This is about 20-25 minutes from home (depending on traffic) and provides access to Stoney Creek. Last year, as part of a larger improvement project, Anne Arundel County added a nice car-top boat launch. Before that, it looks like there was an unofficial launch that was a short carry from parking. It is free to launch here, and there is parking for several vehicles, but no bathroom facilities. With air temperatures in the mid 50s and water temperatures in the upper 50s to low 60s, I opted to wear my wet suit. I hit the water at around 9:00am, and was out for two hours. The day started off overcast, but the clouds burned off while I was out, and I finished the paddle in bright sunshine. While it was a beautiful day to be on the water, it was definitely on the windy side. I started out by checking out a couple of small coves just upstream of the launch, but soon ran out of real estate and turned back downstream. My initial goal was to paddle all the way out to the Fort Smallwood Rd bridge, but I ended up turning around a little bit short of it, because the water was getting choppy and I was fighting against the wind. With the wind at my back, I headed back in the direction of the launch, and checked out a couple of smaller coves along the way. The water was fairly calm here, and it was quite enjoyable. I saw a couple of kayak fishermen out at one point, but other than that, I had the water entirely to myself. All in all, I covered around 5 miles.

I’m pretty sure this was the latest in the season that I have ever paddled. I’d lay odds on this being my last paddle of the season, but you never know. In any case, I really enjoy being out on the water this time of year, and I could see myself eventually buying a dry suit and getting into year-round paddling. Probably not this year, though.

Zeke’s Harvest Moon AeroPress

I had not used my AP in a couple of months, so I decided to dust it off today:

  • Beans: “Harvest Moon” medium roast (Indonesia/South Asia)
    • Roaster: Zeke’s Coffee (Baltimore, MD)
    • Roast date: 10/30/2023
  • JX: 2 turns (Grind setting 20)
  • 96°C water
  • 15 grams coffee / 200 grams water (1:13.3)
  • Two paper filters, pre-moistened
  • Recipe: An AeroPress Recipe by Tim Wendelboe
  1. Set AeroPress up in standard orientation and rinse filters
  2. Add 200g water to AeroPress
  3. Stir 3 times back to front
  4. Insert plunger and pull up to stop dripping
  5. Steep for 60 seconds
  6. Remove plunger and stir 3 times back to front again
  7. Insert plunger and press slowly

This recipe is actually very similar to one I tried back in September with a different batch of medium-roasted beans. According to my notes, that cup tasted “thin bodied”. Today’s cup, however, was pretty good. Here are the main differences:

  • 95°C water in Sept., vs 96° today
  • One paper filter in Sept., vs 2 today
  • Grind setting 18 in Sept., vs 20 today — September’s was slightly finer
  • Beans 10.5 weeks past roast date (vs 2.5 weeks)

The single biggest difference here was bean freshness. It’s possible that September’s beans may have been starting to get a little stale. Anyhow, I’ll probably try another cup using these beans with this recipe, and see if it turns out similarly to today’s.

I’m hoping to work the AP back into my “rotation” a little bit more frequently, as I’m considering using it as an option for making coffee while traveling. The idea would be to dial a recipe in for a light to medium roast, figure out the quantities of water and coffee used (to eliminate the need for a scale), and pre-grind enough beans for my trip. Then I would pack the AeroPress and ground coffee, and in theory, all I’d need at my destination would be a way to boil water.

11/22: After a slightly bitter cup a couple of days ago, I dropped the water temperature to 90° today and the resulting cup wasn’t bad. Setting 20 is on the coarse side of the “AeroPress range” on the 1Zpresso grind chart, so I might try it a little bit finer next time, just to see what happens.

11/25: I’m currently still at 90°, which seems to work well. Yesterday, I used grind setting 19, and today I tried 18, both of which have been good, with today’s maybe slightly better, although the difference is subtle, and as I’m tasting the cups 24 hours apart, also could be somewhat subjective. I think I’ll just keep nudging it finer and finer until it starts to taste over-extracted, at which point I’ll know it’s making a difference. 😀 I do think that I should probably start using an insulated mug when brewing at lower temperatures this time of year, as today’s cup cooled off very quickly in my ceramic mug, in spite of my having preheated it.

11/26: I think we are finally hitting the point of diminishing returns at grind setting 17. It was still a reasonably good cup, but with a slight hint of bitterness. So, the ideal setting would seem to be 18, or possibly one of the two positions between 18 and 17.

Two Cup French Press

I have brewed mostly single cups of coffee in the French press, which, while it works, is better suited for something like the AeroPress. Today, I brewed a larger batch, which turned out pretty good:

  • Beans: “Harvest Moon” medium roast (Indonesia/South Asia)
    • Roaster: Zeke’s Coffee (Baltimore, MD)
    • Roast date: 10/30/2023
  • 40 grams coffee, 520 grams water (1:13 ratio)
  • French press
  • Gooseneck kettle
  1. Preheat French press
  2. Heat brew water to 95°C
  3. Coarse grind (JX setting 30, or 3 rotations)
  4. Start timer and pour at the same time
  5. Pour 100 grams or so of water and return kettle to base
  6. Swirl to get all the grounds wet, and bloom until 1:00
  7. Top up to 520 grams of water and stir slowly a few times
  8. Steep for 6 more minutes, plunge, and pour

This recipe is kind of a testament to the fact that it’s hard to screw things up with a French press. I bet it would taste good with or without a separate bloom, with or without stirring/swirling, and regardless of total steep time (within reason). 6 minutes seems to be long enough to get good extraction without letting the coffee cool down too much.

11/21: This recipe tasted a little bitter this morning. Maybe try dropping the water temperature to 90°.

Run Notes

I took my third run in the past 4 days this morning, as I attempt to recover from my latest illness. I ran 5.35 miles at 11:09/mile, which is nowhere near 100%, but an improvement over Sunday and Monday. Of note is that instead of my usual Vibram V-Runs, I ran in Xero HFS with a pair of wool socks. The temperature was in the low 40s, and this combination seemed to keep my feet a little bit warmer. On the flip side, my cadence was slightly down (177spm) and the front of the toe box got “hung up” a few times — not really enough to trip me up, but something I’m going to have to keep an eye on as I start take more runs in colder weather. It may be that my Xero Terraflex trail shoes, which are more rigid but fit my feet a little bit better, end up being better winter running shoes than the HFS. We’ll see.

Also today, I went back to using my Polar heart rate monitor. I had stopped using it because I was starting to have difficulty getting it to pair with my Apple Watch. I put a fresh CR2025 battery in it last night, after which it paired easily, so I’m hoping that was the problem. The watch’s built-in HRM had been working OK for me in lieu of the Polar, but more recently, for some reason, it has been flaky at the beginnings of my runs. It seems to take anywhere between 10-20 minutes before it registers an accurate heart rate, and during that time, it either registers no heart rate at all, or gives an inaccurately high reading (usually 175-180bpm). Oddly enough, this only seems to happen during running workouts; I have no issues with cycling workouts, walks, or the periodic readings the watch takes throughout the day. It eventually will correct itself and give an accurate reading for the rest of the run, but the initial flakiness was enough to get me to switch back to the Polar, which worked great for me today.