Sunday, October 3, 2021

Duluth Donut Dash 5K (Race Recap)


Duluth, GA
Sunday, September 26, 2021
Race/Event #92
5K #31
Weather - perfect Fall morning, clear mid 50s

This race used to be called the Duluth Fall Festival 5K. It's always been the same route, same day (the Sunday of the Duluth Fall Festival weekend), just has a new name/sponsor now. I've done it seven times before. The race was uneventful, finished with a time of 39:21. The donut and coffee afterwards were very good! :)

One of the things I really like about this race, some of the financial proceeds go for a good cause.  Their website had:

"We are happy to continue our support of Wellroot Family Services’ (formerly the United Methodist Children’s Home) vision of a world where every child is raised in a loving, compassionate, and nurturing home. Their Foster Care Program provides hope and healing to children who have been neglected or abused by providing loving foster homes, as well as helping children find permanent homes through reunification with their birth parents or through adoption. Wellroot Family Services serves the North Georgia community."

Here's my prediction - this may be the very last 5K I do. It's not that it was a bad race, it was a nice race. A very festive atmosphere as it was part of the annual Fall Festival. Friendly people all around, easy going activity going on, and of course free donuts and coffee after the race. The problem, it was only a 5K, 3.1 miles. I just like longer distances. It felt like just as I was getting warmed up and in a rhythm, it was over. I know the saying, "Never say never." We'll see.

Monday, September 27, 2021

Area 13.1 Half Marathon (Race Recap)

Roswell, GA
Saturday, September 11, 2021
Race/Event #91
Half Marathon #40
Weather - warm, mid 70s, night race 7:00 PM start

It's been a long time since the last time I did race. Two and a half years to be exact. Retirement from work, Covid, and such. Anyway, glad to be back at it. I joined just over 1,000 people who also signed up to do the half-marathon or 5K. It was a night time race, my first. They strongly recommended bringing a headlamp.

There was one other really odd thing about this race for me. After looking at the race participant list on their website I noticed that there were only two guys in the male 65-69 category. With the assumption that they other guy was going to run the race, all I had to to was keep my walking pace fast enough to meet their cutoff times (6.5 miles by 9:00 PM (2 hours) and 10 miles by 10:00 PM (3 hours)). If I was successful, I'd place second in the category. This became my goal for the race. I don't typically place 1st, 2nd, or 3rd in any of the races I do, especially half marathons.

As race time was getting near I took my normal starting position near the back. During the national anthem, took my hat off and stood at attention. It means so much more to me to pay deep respect not only in general but specifically because this was the 20th anniversary of the 9-11 attacks.  Shortly after that, we were off.

Being overly aware of the cutoff times, I decided to do a little running in the first few miles. I had "fresh" legs, no knee pain. The back of the pack thinned out pretty quickly and for the majority of the race it was never crowded. Sunset was about 7:45 so darkness came quickly. At about 8:30, while on a trail in the woods, with no one else around I was extremely thankful I had a headlamp. I shut it off once just to see what it was like without light. It would have been impossible to do this section without light. A few times I thought I was lost. Didn't see anyone ahead or behind. It was a good feeling every time I came across a sign with an arrow on it (and the race logo). 

As the race progressed I was really feeling the difference from doing my 12-13 mile walks during the week. Those weekly walks were easy. This was hard, races are different. I was able to make the the cutoff times at mile 6.5 and 10. That was good. I would have been disappointed if I got a DNF (did not finish) on this race. 

Three hours and seven minutes after starting, I crossed the finish line. I was exhausted. My 3:07:07 time got me 1st place in the M65-69 age group. I was the only person in that category!  :)  It was still nice coming in first though. They gave me Alien 13.1 pint glass and a $15 gift card to the Big Peach Running Store. 

It was a good race.

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Building a Fence With Branches

During the fall I trimmed a lot of trees in the backyard. While on a long walk one day, I came up with the idea to build a small fence with them. A fence that would help keep the leaves from blowing into the porch area.

It worked!  :)

In case you were wondering and want to build one yourself, it's pretty easy to build a fence like this.

The Frame

The first thing to decide, what material to use for the structure. I decided to use red pine fence pickets. I got them at Home Depot, 5/8" x 5.5" x 6'. They were $1.97 each. For each fence section (36" x 36"), I needed two pickets. Not too bad, $3.94 in wood cost per section, with a little bit leftover to use for the next section. Fortunately I have both a miter saw and a table saw so I was able to cut these to the sizes I needed. 

First, on the miter saw, cut each picket in half, roughly 36 inches.

Next, each 36 inch piece had to be ripped in half on the table saw.

Painting is optional. I decided to paint these a dark brown.

About the saws, at a minimum you will need a miter saw or at least some way to cut your wood into 36 inch pieces. If you do not have a table saw, you do have another option. Instead of using the 6 foot pickets that need a lot of cuts, you could use 3 inch wide cedar planks. You would not have to do any ripping, thus no need for a table saw. The only downside to this approach is material cost. The cedar planks at Home Depot, 3/4" x 3" x 8' cost $8.64. For each fence section you would need three planks, $25.92. Big difference compared to the $3.94 per fence section cost with the red pine fence pickets. There are many types of wood to choose from. The main thing to keep in mind when selecting is picking one that will hold up to the weather.

Next, put these together in squares and screw them together. Be sure to make sure they are square. Also, it's best to use exterior screws.

A tip my dad taught me to make sure something is square, measure the distance of opposite corners. If they're the same, it's square.

You may need to add spacers (like I did on this section) in all four corners. You will need to do this if your branches are thicker. 

Final step for the frame, screw in the two side pieces. You can now see the gap where you put the branches.

The Branches

Working with the branches is the most fun. It's sort of like a puzzle figuring out the order in which to put them in. They all have to be cut to size. The one piece of equipment that helped significantly with this process was a vice.

The vice made the cutting so much easier being able to secure each branch. Once cut, you insert into the frame. There is no need to secure them.

One final step. Since it will be outside, in all sorts of weather, it needs to have some type of protection. I opted to put a few coats of spar urethane on them.

A Final Note

I was surprised how many branches I needed to build this fence. It was just over 200 individual pieces. I found myself picking up fallen branches while walking on some local trails.