Project Half Marathon – More Gadgets and the Ugly Face of Truth

Remember the activity tracker I bought for this project of running? The Polar A360? Mother on my wrist, commanding and nagging me to move etc.?

It is gone now, I assume it is leading an underground criminal organisation somewhere in the metro tunnels of Brussels. It slipped from my wrist one afternoon when I left work and has never been seen since. Polar might want to develop the wristband into something little sturdier.

After a brief grieving period, I bought a new gadget. I am still staying faithful to Polar, but upgrading the level of gadget. We are going smart with the M600, a smart watch. Blimey.

The watch has its own Android operating system, it is synced with my phone, Strava, Google Fit and of course Polar Flow. it also gives out more data and more accurate data. The basic things of course; activity levels, heart rate, distances etc. This thing also counts my steps per minute while running and it has built-in GPS, so my distances and speeds are recorded by a floating thing in space.

With the accurate data came the horrible truth with its ugly face.

Previously I had tracked my runs with the A360 and the crappy GPS of my old phone, which is on the same level of high-tech as a Russian potato. They gave positively satisfying info of me, running like a dream at 10 km/h for kilometres and kilometres on end.

Mwhahaha, said the new smart watch as it crumbled my sweet, sweet dreams. I barely can do 6 minutes 40 on a kilometre, which is 9 km/h. Ok, ok, now that I say it, it is not that bad at all, but it does dampen the moral a bit.

Polar training data

Gotta be rather happy with the steady heart rate though!

On top of the discovery of my real slowness, there has been some illness, some knee-related trouble and so forth, so I can tell you, there is no half marathon happening here in the end of May.

Waffle on the other hand is doing great. The damned miracle of a runner. He is almost there, running at around 11 km/h for distances of over 18 km. Just a little extra squeeze and he is done with the challenge.

He is not stopping there though. He wants to continue, until he breaks the limit of 25 km, then 30 km, and if that doesn’t hurt too bad, he’ll go on until a complete marathon. I’ll just keep on sacrificing things to the sacred spirits of running, so that my knees won’t let me down. If you have good tips on what those spirits like, I am eager to hear!

So here we have it. Is there anybody else running?


Missing the Mountains – Some Travel Plans

This year our summer holiday will be spent in Finland. We are going there for the first weeks of July, spending a total of 18 days on the go. The plan was first to have a shorter trip to Finland and divide our precious off days a little between different destinations. However I performed a meltdown of homesickness, which spooked Waffle so much, that he went and booked the tickets and created a loooong summer vacation in the north.

I am happy. Very, very happy. We have organized the trip so, that we fly from Brussels to Riga with Ryanair, rent a car from there, drive through Latvia and Estonia and take a boat to Helsinki from Tallinn. We will be driving through the whole Finland all the way up to Norway and Barents Sea. Meeting friends and family on the go and hike in every attractive looking ditch and bush and fell. Magnificent!

I am a bit sad too. I always say while we plan, that there are so many places, but so little time (and money). It is almost impossible to see all the beauty in this world, that I want to see. And now we are throwing away one complete summer of traveling and spending it in Finland. No mountains, no exotic new landscapes. Just Finland. But let’s keep the happy mood about getting to visit home.

The mountains then, the once we are going to miss this year?

We have been glancing to the eastern corners of Europe. Ryanair is offering cheap flights from Germany to Romania again, we might take the opportunity since it seems the Fagaras mountains still have a lot in store for us. I hope we manage to squeeze that in somewhere in the late summer. Or the next year.

Waffle has also been flirting with the idea of going to Georgia, the country, not the state. The Russian border is littered with magnificent mountain ranges, unspoiled wilderness and interesting history, recent conflicts and they marks on the country etc. If everything works out, we might create a small road trip tour to the Turkish mountains! Next year, I hope.

Corsica. That little island there in the Mediterranean, with the famous GR20 -trail crossing it and its mountains. It has been calling for us for a long time. I hope we start to be fit enough to do it soon. We would have gone there this year. But you know, homesickness-meltdown took us to Finland.

Sounds like there is not much traveling happening this year, huh?

On the contrary. Our home extension project is coming along nicely and soon we can start spending weekends where ever we want. The Alps have never been this close to us and UK, as well as Ireland, are destinations in our dreams also, for a short getaway road trip.

Not looking so bad after all, even though we can’t do too many trips to further locations. Good thing next year is right behind the corner!

Building a Caravan – The Walls and What Goes Within

Parts one and two of this project are here: #1#2

So, now we have acquired most of the stuff, so much so, that we have been able to start the actual building of this thing.

In the midway of April, with Waffle’s dad’s determined leadership the walls begun to rise. The walls obviously are the biggest and most visible part of the whole thing, and do require quite some time to get perfectly right.

We started with the outer wood structure at the front and carried on to measure and cut the sides.  The curve was calculated so, that the straight part of the wall would reach 70 cm of height, which would guarantee useful inner space as well as functional aerodynamics. To the sidewalls we got the profile of the curve simply by estimating the length of the straight part of the roof and then pending the flexible plywood between the point of 70 cm of height in the front and the ending point of the straight roof at 250 cm. Waffle had drawn sketches too, to give direction to the desired shape.

The holes for the windows were cut too. The positioning was thoroughly considered in relation to the TV and the sitting position and bed location.

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This is how we ended up with a wobbly structure of a front panel and two side walls. At this point I think it is rather acceptable to fall into despair and tell yourself that you are worthless and your great plans will never become reality.

After the sudden drop of confidence we gathered our minds and pursued our dreams again. Some screws and supporting skeletal structures later the walls stood up in a lot sturdier fashion.

Especially the curving part is well supported, since the bendable plywood is relatively skinny. There we used the skeleton studs as separators, so the space between each stud is 4,4 cm.  They are directly screwed onto the outer walls, from each end.  For the roof part, the studs stand about 25 – 30 cm apart. On top of that structure we placed another plywood, 15 mm in thickness to serve as the roof.

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The walls are studded lengthwise, again each horizontal stud is about 25 – 30 cm from another. In between them there are vertical bars to ensure stability,  the window hole is supported of course too.

At this point we needed to stop and think through the electricity installation. We needed to drill holes for all the cabling in the studs, so that the wires would be nicely hidden behind the insulation and the inner walling. Before putting in the said insulation and inner walls.

First of all there is the charge controller which regulates the power input from the solar panels on the roof to either the battery, or the appliances and lighting. We will install a set of witches for lights, and a few sockets charging batteries and for things like TV and fridge (or well, a cool box). Maybe also a main switch to cut off all the load from the system, just in case.

Followed a mission of drilling, passing wires and re-drilling and passing wires again. After that we had a mess; wires and cables running through the floor and the ceiling into walls and out of them. At that point we learned the importance of labeling, and counting.

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You see, if you don’t check which wire ends where you’ll end up with a total mess once the inner wall comes up and you can’t follow the length of the wire anymore. C’est du caca. Also you want to make sure, that all the wires that leave from the charge controller and switches, come out of the wall in the appropriate place too. Otherwise C’est encore du caca. After all the labeling and follow up on wires was done, we finally got all the mineral wool insulation (4 cm thick wool plates) in place and screwed the inner walls tight.

Getting it all right took about 4 reruns. There was every time something wrong,  wrong cables in wrong places, cables missing etc. We even noticed at the last minute, that the cables from the solar panels to the charge controller were not sufficient. You need cable made especially for solar panels.

Now we have an insulated wooden box in our hands, spewing wires out of its walls. The next steps will be mounting the interior. So structures for bed, cupboards and so on. And of course finishing the outer side of it, caulk the screw holes and seams, get the aluminium, mount the solar panels, make a door, give it a name etc. More on these things later!