Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Essential Equipment

Seems in a blink of an eye, I converted over to trail running. A year ago, I would have never considered trying it, given my propensity to roll ankles. When I got out of my cast last year, I bought an ankle brace, as I didn't trust my healing ankle. I did a little hiking as a means to strengthen my ankle and lower legs. The deal was, with a brace on my left ankle I found I could still roll my right ankle. So I ordered a second brace.  I never thought I'd use them to run off-road though. They have become essential equipment.

Lace-up ankle braces

My last four runs have been all or at least half off-road. Yesterday's in the rain was interesting. No different than mountain biking on wet roots and rocks, really. Twice, an ankle started to roll on me. Hard to say if the ankle braces are stout enough to completely protect me from injury. My biggest fear is tripping on a root or tree debris and bashing a knee or breaking a wrist in a fall.

Pace goes way down off-road. Impact is lessened on loamy soil, but I find trail running makes me more sore afterwards. It is all the off-camber stuff, pushing off laterally to dodge stuff, bigger step-ups or step-downs. I would think this could help me come time to put on XC skis. I don't plan to rollerski anytime soon. Hopefully running, road and off-road, helps fill the transition gap to skiing.

I been getting some other functional training in too. My wife Cathy has been bugging me to replace our main floor carpeting for some time now. For our first several years in this house, we had a large black lab that spent part of his time outdoors. He took a lot of dirt into the house. Although he was trained to stay off the carpet, he learned that after we went to bed, he could poach the dining room carpet off the kitchen. When he heard us get up and come down the stairs, he'd quick get up and lay on his mat like he was there the whole time. The warm spot on the carpet gave him away though. Smart dogs, those labs are. Anyway, he trashed the carpet. Cathy wanted to put a wood floor in there. I reluctantly agreed, as I wasn't paying somebody else to install it, so that meant I would have to work it into my busy schedule.

So last weekend I tasked Cathy with rolling back the carpet. She says "Um dear, you better come and look at this." The subfloor in the corner was wet and buckled. WTF. Probably water infiltration from Irene, but you could tell this was not a new problem.

Cathy wanted wood floor, Cathy can take belt sander to high spots.

Investigation outside showed why. The builder failed to install kick-out flashing on our house. We have a bump-out bay window in the kitchen. Where it's roof meets the siding along the family room was not properly flashed. Water came down the bump-out and ran behind the siding. No wonder we constantly struggle with carpenter ants in our house.

I got the extension ladder out. Pounding on the siding below the leak gave a sickening sound. The siding just caved in. The sheathing behind it was completely rotten.

So a project that began as installing a wood floor morphed into ripping siding and sheathing off the side of our house. I had to replace the rotten sheathing, then replace the vinyl siding, then work in a kick-out flashing, which is hard to do when everything is built already. It wasn't pretty, but I think what I came up with is robust. That probably took more time that it will to finish the wood floor.

We went with an engineered flooring material. It is natural oak veneer laminated to interlocking panels. It floats, so no nailing or gluing. It goes in quick. Not sure how durable the construction is, but that room gets very light use in our house. In two evenings, we nearly finished the floor. Just need to finish a bit more quarter round moulding.

Almost finsihed in two evenings.

All that crawling around on my knees and running down to the basement to cut boards a zillion times was actually a pretty good workout. Made me hurt in many strange places. You'd think with running, cycling, situps and pushups there wouldn't be much else to punish, but there's lots.

Vermont 50 this weekend. Looks like lots of rain on the way. I just may give up cycling entirely the way my season has been going.

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