Drippy Park Run

We seem to be stuck in a humid, overcast, drippy, chilly weather pattern after Ophelia passed through on Saturday. With schools back in session today, I decided to shake my Tuesday morning running routine up a little bit. I drove and parked the van on Levering Ave. near the viaduct, and ran into Patapsco Valley State Park, following River Rd. out past the swinging bridge to near the former Bloede Dam site, and back on the Grist Mill Trail. It ended up being about 7 miles, but if I wanted to, I could extend it to 8 or 9 pretty easily. I may start doing this more often on school days, as it seems to be a good way to avoid school-related running inconveniences (mainly traffic). As for the run itself, it was okay, but not great. I’ve been dealing with an extremely mild G.I. thing the past couple of days, which slowed me down a little bit, but I think the main thing was just the dreary weather and the wet feet.

This weather also brought an abrupt, early end to our 2023 pool season. I had hoped to get a couple of swims in after I returned home from Minneapolis, but it wasn’t to be. My final swim of the season was September 15. Hopefully, next year will be better, but as this year illustrates, September weather can be fickle.


Still dealing with some off-and-on nerve pain in the ball of my right foot, which cropped up around the third week of August. It’s close to the same area where I had a neuroma back around 2016-2017, and while I can’t rule that out, the symptoms aren’t quite the same. In 2017, when I saw a podiatrist, I got a cortisone shot in that area, which I don’t think did me any long-term favors. Oddly, it seems to bother me most when I’m sedentary, and in particular, in bed when I wake up in the morning. It’s just a generic kind of aching pain, and the nerve feels kind of “weird” when walking barefoot and when swimming. Running does not bother it at all, but I’ve aggravated it a couple of times while climbing. On Monday, I did a bunch of lead climbing, and I could tell I tweaked it on the first route I climbed. This morning, I climbed 6 routes on top rope, and had no problems. I was really careful with the foot, sticking to mostly overhanging routes with juggy holds, using the bad foot mainly for balance and trying to avoid putting too much weight on it. I also wore a metatarsal pad on the right foot, which I think helped. It definitely helps while walking on the treadmill and with static standing. It looks like I can keep climbing for now, but I’m going to need to baby it like this until the issue clears up. I suspect I’m going to have occasional issues there for the rest of my life, and the key is going to be to manage it to prevent flare-ups. The silver lining here is that the whole experience with the neuroma is what convinced me to start wearing minimalist footwear and “Correct Toes”, which was a long, tough transition from conventional footwear, but absolutely worth it in every way.

Notwithstanding our current September heat wave, pool season will be winding down for us in just a few short weeks. According to Apple Health, I took my 48th swim of the season this afternoon. That’s about 20 fewer than this time last year, but I never intended to match last year’s total. My first swim this year was June 2, so I’ve managed to average about one swim session every other day this season. That average will drop a bit, as I’ll be missing a week this month due to travel, but all in all, I’m pretty happy with how the season went. I’m swimming more strokes per session this year as well (703 strokes for 2023 vs 651 for 2022). One really weird statistic: for the first time in the 22 seasons we’ve owned the pool, this is the first year that nobody outside our immediate family has been in it. Times have definitely changed since the days when we used to throw a massive pool party every summer…

This and that

My dream of running 10+ miles on Saturday mornings is going to have to wait at least another week, as it’s still oppressively humid out there. Today, I settled for 10K, and probably sweated out about 30% of my body weight. If I’m able to consistently run longer distances through fall, winter, and next spring, then I’ll figure out what I need to do to keep it up this time of year. At a minimum, I’ll need a way to carry 1.5 to 2 liters of water, as well as a strategy to replenish electrolytes lost through sweating.

On the pool front, after malfunctioning twice so far this season, my SWG temperature sensor has been working correctly for the past several days, but I now have a tri-sensor simulator that I can use to troubleshoot it the next time it acts up. For now, though, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. I just ordered a new Skimlite R16C leaf rake to replace my old one that I bought in 2007. That’s right — the old one lasted 16 years as my only leaf net. It had a few holes in the mesh, but was still usable. Recently, though, the frame has started flopping back and forth, which is inconvenient enough that I finally took the plunge and ordered a new one. They are not cheap ($70 in 2007; $100 in 2023) but they are made to last, and when you consider that the cheaper nets only last a season or two, the Skimlite basically pays for itself over time. I expect that this will be the last one I ever need to buy.

Late-season swimming report

It’s that time of the year where I’m wondering where summer went. I figure we have at worst 4 weeks of swim season left, and at best 6 weeks. Our record for latest swim of the year (October 9), was set in 2007, and still stands after 16 years. Will it ever be broken? We’ll have another shot at it in a few short weeks.

I would guesstimate that I have been getting in the pool and swimming laps about 4 days a week on average this year, which seems like plenty to me. It’s less frequent than I swam last year or the year before, but I’ve got more going on nowadays than in 2021 and 2022. I am still swimming with a tether, and tracking the workout by counting strokes. I typically do 720 strokes, which consists of 3 sets of 60 breaststroke, 60 freestyle, 60 butterfly, and 60 backstroke, in that order. It takes me a little over 30 minutes. This is the first year I’ve swum backstroke regularly, and it is still decidedly a work in progress. For some reason, I struggle with coordinating the arm movement and the leg kicks. It reminds me kind of like trying to pat my head and rub my stomach at the same time. I also occasionally splash water into my nose, which is not the most pleasant sensation, and staying straight (with the tether perpendicular to the pool wall) can be a challenge. I expect that I will improve over time, but it may take a couple of seasons.

We have a new winter safety cover this year. The old one lasted a long time — I installed it in fall 2002, and we used it through this past winter. It was in rough shape by then, and we really should have replaced it last year, but I’m not going to complain about getting 20+ winters out of it. The covers have more than doubled in price since 2002, but with any luck, this will be the last one we have to buy while we’re in the house. Next season, it’s looking like I may finally have to replace the pump. The current pump is a 1hp Hayward Super 2, and the previous owner installed it, so it’s at least 22 seasons old. It’s on its second impeller and second or third shaft seal, but now, the motor is finally starting to go, so I’m going to have to replace it before it gets loud enough to annoy my neighbors and then eventually freezes up. I may try to take care of that in the early spring, but I first need to decide if I want to swap out the entire pump, or just the motor, and then there’s the question of whether to go with a variable speed (VS) motor. Lots of stuff to think about there.

Morning Run

Crazy week here at the house, with construction out front as the county scrambles to build sidewalks before school starts, and our own driveway paving job starting shortly as well. Should be nice when everything is all finished and re-landscaped, although who knows how long that will take.

I woke up to a more humid morning than I had hoped for, but it was nicer out than Tuesday, and I was able to get out for my regular run. I went 8.6 miles, which is a little bit farther than I usually run on weekdays. My legs were pretty fresh since I didn’t run on Tuesday. I ran at a relaxed pace, and it felt pretty good. I’ve had a slightly irritated nerve in the ball of my right foot since Monday or so, and I was a little bit concerned that it might affect my running, but it did not bother me at all. I’m not sure how the nerve got tweaked. My only guess is maybe it happened while climbing on Friday or Monday. I’ve had the same issue with the left foot at times, and it has always just kind of gone away on its own eventually. The only real issue I had today was a touch of queasiness that hit at about mile 7.5. I don’t know what brought it on. It passed after I stopped and walked for a couple of minutes, and I felt fine for the final mile of the run. I do have to say that the humidity is starting to get a little old, but I say that every summer around this time.

Morning Update

Not a pleasant morning at all here in central Maryland, so I opted to run in the pool. More storms later today in this already extremely stormy and wet summer. How long until autumn again? 😀 I’ve written before about how the benefits of owning a pool don’t quite make up for the expense and hassle required to maintain it, but I will say that it’s great to have the pool as an exercise option on days when I don’t feel like doing anything else outdoors. If the storms hold off long enough, I also hope to get out to swim later this afternoon.

I’ve settled on this recipe for what remains of my bag of dark roast beans I bought last May:

  • Beans: Lost Dog “Mocha Sidamo” Ethiopian dark roast
  • JX: 2.5 turns (75 total clicks, or 25 on the grind chart)
  • 80°C water
  • 14 grams coffee / 180 grams water (around 1:13)
  • One new paper filter (pre-moistened)
  • Recipe: “Basikairoo” (inverted: add 50g water, swirl aggressively for a few seconds, top up to 180g starting at 1:00, invert at 2:15, press for 30s starting at ~3:00)

This is only slightly tweaked from when I first brewed this recipe. It produces a good cup fairly consistently, with only slight variations in strength. I wonder if the length of time spent “swirling” makes any difference in the finished product. The recipe specifies 3 seconds, but I haven’t been timing it.

Afternoon Report

The “AC Loss” issue with our new alarm panel seems to be resolved, at least for now. After reprogramming the last few zones in the system, I unplugged the system and let it run on battery for several minutes. Then, I swapped out the old Ademco 4300 X-10 transformer, replacing it with the transformer that came with the new panel. When I plugged it back in, the AC Loss condition cleared up. I have a hard time believing that the transformer was the issue. I read the panel voltage across terminals 1 and 2 with both transformers, and it was exactly the same — about 16.7 volts AC. Maybe the panel was just in a confused state, and needed an actual AC power loss and recovery to “reset” itself. However, the problem did persist through several power cycles (although I’m not sure I ran the panel on battery at any point). The only way to find out for sure would be to swap the old transformer back in, and see if the problem returns. However, since it’s working now, I’m inclined to leave it alone.

I decided to try doubling my cold brew recipe this afternoon. I put 2 slightly heaping scoops of Wellsley Farms breakfast blend into the (inverted) AeroPress, added room temperature filtered water up to near the top, stirred for 1 minute, and pressed. Then, I split the concentrated coffee equally into two tumblers, topped them up to roughly 8 ounces, and added ice and a couple drops of stevia to each glass. The extra coffee made it a little bit harder to press, but it turned out just fine. I couldn’t tell any difference from my single cup recipe. The next time I do this, I may measure the total amount of water per glass more carefully, then press into a carafe or pitcher instead of directly into a tumbler.

This and that

I had hoped to take a bike ride this morning, but ended up sleeping until almost 9:00. It was probably just as well, as it’s very hot and humid today, and would have been a rather sweaty ride. The reason for my oversleeping was that we got a call around midnight from our alarm monitoring company because of a “trouble” condition. Turns out that the newer Vista panels have “trouble” reporting enabled by default, while the older ones didn’t, and I didn’t think to turn it off when I programmed the new panel. Earlier in the evening, I had popped the cover off one of the wireless contacts to check the battery, which caused the zone to go into “trouble”. I’m not sure why the alarm company called at the time they did, but it does confirm that reporting is working! The panel is still showing “AC Loss” this morning, in spite of the power being just fine. When I get to messing with it again, I’ll try unplugging it, running it on battery for a few minutes, and plugging it back in, to see if it resets. If not, I may try swapping out the transformer, and if none of that works, I’ll contact the alarm company.

The pool SWG is still reading an abnormally high temperature today. At least it’s consistent. When I get to messing with that, I’ll try re-seating the tri-sensor cable and see if it corrects itself. I may also pull the tri-sensor itself out of the manifold and take a look at it. If none of that works, I’ll test it with the tri-sensor simulator to narrow down the source of the problem, and contact my Autopilot dealer to see what he recommends. This is a rather easy issue to work around, either by calibrating the temperature reading down, lowering the Chlorine output, or turning off the setting that automatically adjusts the output based on the water temperature. Assuming I can’t fix this easily, I’m inclined to ride it out for the rest of this season, and buy any needed replacement parts over the winter.

I brewed yesterday’s dark roast coffee recipe again today, exactly the same way, except I used 180g of water instead of 200g. Truth be told, I didn’t notice much of a difference from yesterday. It was a pleasant cup of dark roast. I have enough beans to make 7 or 8 more cups, and I’m probably just going to be boring and stick with this recipe until they’re gone.

Broken stuff

The abnormally-high temperature reading on my pool’s SWG that I noticed 10 days ago is back. This morning, it was reading 94°F when the actual water temperature was 80°F. The reading was consistently about 14-15° too high every time I checked today, all the way up until 7:00 or so, when I went out to swim. I’m going to try disconnecting and re-seating the cable that connects the tri-sensor to the controller, and I’ll take a look at the contacts to see if they’re dirty or oxidized. Maybe it’s just a bad connection. I went ahead and ordered a tri-sensor simulator, which is a little widget that plugs into the controller and generates a fixed temperature, salt, and flow reading. If cleaning and re-seating the cable doesn’t do the trick, then I can use the simulator to determine whether the problem is with the tri-sensor or the controller.

In other news, we are preparing to get rid of our landline phone service, but before we can do that, I have to convert our security system to use cellular and/or internet monitoring. The problem is, the panel’s firmware was too old to work with the new communicator, and to make a long story short, I had to swap out the entire panel. It’s kind of amazing that the panel is still in production, and is practically identical to the version that was produced 21 years ago when I originally installed it. All I had to do was move all the wires over and then reprogram the new panel (a tedious, but not difficult, job). That was today’s project. Now, the weird thing: the new panel works perfectly, except for one thing: for some reason, it thinks it doesn’t have AC power. The alpha keypad flashes “AC LOSS”, and the fixed keypad says “NO AC”. This is normally what it does during a power outage, when it’s running off the battery. Get this, though: it does this even with the battery disconnected. So, if it doesn’t have AC, I don’t know how it can possibly be working. Induction? Hamsters? Who knows. The voltage from the transformer is fine: I read 16 volts AC at the transformer itself and the connection terminals on the panel. I’m wondering if maybe I can just ignore this, as everything seems to be working, but I’m concerned that it may not be charging the battery. If it’s not, I’ll find out in the next few days once the battery runs down. As a last resort, I may try unplugging the panel to simulate an actual “NO AC” condition, and seeing if maybe it resets itself when I plug it back in. But I’m not holding my breath, as the problem has persisted through several power cycles. I’m also going to reread the manual and see if there’s anything I missed with the initial setup. If all else fails, I’ll contact my alarm company, and see if they have any ideas.

Running etc

Pool update: after yesterday morning’s weird SWG behavior, I returned from work in the late afternoon to find everything ostensibly working normally. The temperature readout had corrected itself, and cell volts/amps looked good as well. The Free Chlorine this morning was identical to yesterday’s reading at ~4.5ppm. Not sure what the issue was. This morning, I pulled the cell out and inspected it, which is something I try to do every year around the end of July. There was very little scale, which indicates that the controller’s self-cleaning function is working correctly. The manifold inlet screen was clean, and the check valve looked good. Some of the cell plates (particularly the ones in the center) have worn down a little bit more, which tells me that the cell might finally be nearing the end of its life, but it seems to be good for now. Since I had it out, I went ahead and acid-washed it for good measure. Next spring, I’ll have to decide if I want to retire the cell and put my new one in service. I bought it in 2019, thinking I’d need it a lot sooner.

It was another pleasant morning, and I got up with my 5:30 alarm, so I left at 6:40 and ran for 6.8 miles. It was a great run, and I would have gone farther, but I had to be home at 8:00 to take delivery of a new winter pool cover. Weather permitting, I am going to try to take an 8 or 9-miler on Saturday morning.