Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

There isn't any time for an entry because we are about to get slammed with trick-or-treaters in about 10 minutes.  However I would like to wish everyone a safe and happy Halloween.  Party on!

P.S. - I can't seem to get past the Wayne/Garth thing.  It seems wrong for us to do any sort of kissing in these costumes.  It feels more dangerous than crossing the streams with proton packs.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Squirrels, Running, Bleeding, Pumpkins, and Beer

I'm back to working on some short distance greasy fast speed.  I'm not thinking after what I've been doing that there's a lot of chance for me to set any 5K PRs before the end of the year, but I want to get back within striking distance.  There are at least two more chances to prove I haven't lost 2-4 minutes.
Suicidal Squirrel
While I've been doing this, I've had to tread carefully.  Everywhere I want to run, there are squirrels that want to die.  At least two times on every run, I end up running toward a squirrel sitting near a road with one or more cars coming toward us.  Then it's up to me to take the perfect route around the squirrel to not spook it out to its certain death.  So far so good.  I don't want squirrel blood on my hands (...or feet), even though I know one of them did this to my pumpkin... (still no photographic proof of the culprit, but I've caught them in the act)
Yes, this is really my pumpkin, not some
random picture from the net.
Today's run was interesting, given the fact I cut off most of my thumb's knuckle skin.  It started re-bleeding about halfway through the run.
You don't really want to see what's under there
So I got home and did a re-band-aiding (double hyphen, what does it mean?!?) and taping and it stopped again.  I grabbed my shower, water, and had a couple Mooseheads.  They are left-overs from my MSU/UofM get-together that nobody showed up to because every one of my UofM fan friends, except the one who's actually an alumnus of U of M-AA, were too wussy to show.   That was probably because they thought this was going to happen...
Dramatization of 10/15/11
Anyway, Moosehead is usually my beer of choice for anything MSU-related, because, back then, it was the most exquisite "top-notch" stuff that I got to drink.  So it represented good times, and for some reason when I'm watching State or at my old campus, I have to have the moose with me.  Some of the other, more common beer (or semi-equivalent) staples of that time I've since outgrown.
It's not "Moo U," it's Moose U
After that, our friend came over to carve pumpkins with us and my wife bought us both another pumpkin (since hers got eaten today too).  Actually she bought two for her...

Mine.  Yeah, I'm part of the Nerd Herd
P.S. - You have until Friday to watch the first
4 Seasons of "Chuck" and enjoy the final season
in real time.  You're welcome, NBC.  I'm sure my
message here will reach countless sums of people

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Heart-breaker, love taker, sandwich maker don't you mess around with me...

Listen, married people don't mean to let themselves go.  Sometimes it just happens, and I now have a theory why.  It's the kitchen swag.  Suddenly I have all these new food-related toys that I have to try out.

I have brewed maybe 5 pots of coffee since we moved into our new house.  That is, before the new coffee maker.  I usually drink enough coffee at work to never want any here.  The second I get a good coffee maker, I pray I can talk guests into coffee just to make some.  After the tailgate challenge, Jason and I picked up some doughnuts at Tim Hortons (no I'm not still pretending to be Canadian anymore...much).  The second I got home and Pat showed up, I was asking everyone if they wanted coffee.  My wife had a half a cup, and I drank the rest of that pot.  I've brewed 3 pots in the last 2 days.  It's becoming a problem.

We also got a stone pizza pan cooky thing.  So I went nuts with that twice.
Brenchos Pizza:  Sorry, we don't deliver
Then there's that omelette flippy pan thing, which made us clean out a carton of eggs in a week (which never happens, except when I was taught how to make the "Jeff breakfast," but that's another story all together...).

...I had to beat them to death with their own shoes.
Anyway, I can't even try justify that it was healthy, but at least there were green peppers in there.

The one that really is the problem, though....the sandwich maker

"I wish I knew how to quit you"
 The thing makes a perfect sandwich.  I've tried it several times.  People tell me the novelty of having one will wear off, but I don't believe them.  They underestimate my sandwich love, and the sandwich love of my wife.  I'm surprised we've even bothered to unplug it at this point.  It really has been used that much.  However, the madness needs to stop (right?).  Man does not live on fillings (mostly American cheese) hermetically sealed in bread alone...

Lord help us when I finally get some oil in that deep fryer...

Take us out Detroit Grand Pubahs

P.S. - Don't lecture me about how the love taker part comes last and it's the dream maker part in the middle on that Pat Benatar song.  I know.  It just didn't work for my title without the switcheroo.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Tailgate Challenge/Rivalry Weekend

It's official, I've forgotten how to run short races.  It's been over two months since running a 5K, and, though I'm not sure we really got proper times starting that late after everyone else, it still wasn't good.

The tailgate challenge usually splits the runners into Michigan and Michigan State fans with the home team for that weekend running clockwise on the inner loop, and the away team on the outer loop running counter-clockwise.  Due to a breast cancer awareness walk going on at the same time, the route was cancelled and we just all ran the same way on the Retread route.  It's too bad they didn't schedule them back-to-back, because I know a lot of people would have been down for both.  I could have dealt with a cool down.

Anyway, the route change was kind of a downer, and you'd think they'd be able to work their way around it to preserve the tradition of the run.  It's not like it is a certified course or anything, and you can just estimate a 3.1 mile loop.  That's one of the best things about the course; going against the rival school and doing a little stare-down and a bit of taunting about the game to come.

Like many big in state rivalries, both sides have their reasons for coming out on one side or the other, and sometimes these reasons drive people on the opposite side nuts.  Then we do a good job stereotyping the other side, and pointing out the worst in them.  Those of us that are more civil in the matter understand that both institutions have their merits and are generally filled with decent folks.

I come from a divided family as far as MSU/U of M goes.  My parents didn't attend either, but members of my extended have gone to both schools, and my uncle actually went to one for undergrad and med school at the other.  Given my parents extreme indifference to the whole thing, I could have went either way.  I was even dressed in clothing from both schools when I was little, but hopefully any photos of me wearing a block M have been destroyed.

When I think back, I have a vague memory of the moment I chose my allegiance to Michigan State.  It was during the rivalry game weekend, and I had made the statement "well, they're both from Michigan, so what's the difference," while my Dad had people over at our house watching the game.  One of his friends rooting for  Michigan said something to me, I can't remember what.  Either way, I didn't like it, so I rooted for MSU the rest of the game as they were whipped to a pulp and I was being taunted by a cocky Michigan guy.  That's pretty much how it's gone ever since, until fairly recently.

In addition to going to many more Spartan games with my uncle, and fighting against a majority of Wolverines (at least people that claim to be) for the most of my life, I completed the process of becoming a Spartan in 2001 by graduating from Michigan State.  I love my school, and I don't take to people berating it, or making assumptions that I went there because I couldn't go to the other one.

I'm with this guy

Newsflash kids, I never applied to Ann Arbor, and I had the grades to go anywhere I damn well pleased.  There were even moments where a few complications at my dorm upon arriving at MSU made me threaten to disenroll, take a semester off and apply to Michigan for the next term.  Yes, it almost happened, and I would have become one of them, but I stuck it out and I'm glad I stayed put.  It was one of the best experiences I've had, and I'm not sure it would have been as good in Ann Arbor, or that I would have even survived in that town given that the place is just so expensive.  Even in East Lansing, I was usually flat broke and got dinner on many many occasions by taking a box cutter with me to the dumpsters and cutting off the "collect 10 for a free pizza/pokey stick" cards off of discarded Gumby's pizza boxes.  How about you guys?  Did you make any sketchy moves to survive at college?  I made quite a few.  Nothing that hurt anyone else, just general loss of self-dignity type stuff.

That thing in the top corner (used to be on the bottom right).
Anyway, though I value the academic strides we've been making a lot more, I'd be lying if I said it didn't give me some satisfaction when we win the Paul Bunyan Trophy.  I get to sit on my couch and smile knowing I won't be getting a rash of calls from Michigan fans about the game.  One of them is even an MSU alumnus, which I can't fathom.  Had I went down that dark path to Ann Arbor (dark not even referring directly to the morgue lighting in the gloomy dorms or the crows all over the campus symbolizing the death of the human soul), I would have switched allegiances completely because that would have been my school.  It wouldn't have mattered how I raised myself to root for State, I would have been a Wolverine.

Trophy games are a great thing
In a way, I still am, because I got a second degree from U of M-Flint a few years back, which I also support and have pride for, but I don't connect myself to Ann Arbor.  Besides, I'm still hoping they break off on their own eventually and lose the U of M association.
"Well... that'll be an interesting day"
Anyway, I'm happy we got up to do the run again this year, even though it was much less exciting, given the format.  I'm also glad the Spartans won for the 4th year in a row, which has never happened in my lifetime.  I just wish we hadn't done it in green and gold jerseys that looked like they were cheaply made by the old Steve and Barry's for Oregon or Notre Dame.  I'm sick of the association with the movie 300, which I believe was the impetus for this overwhelming addition of "bronze."  Get the tradition straight, even the fight song says "fight for the only colors GREEN and WHITE"...not "green and white....and bronze, and sometimes gray, and black trim...."  I'm sorry, I hate it (almost as much as I hate my university being sponsored and led on a leash by Nike).  Stick with the green and white, even if you can never settle on the proper tone for the green.  I also wish some of our players played with a little more class, but class and football rarely goes together anyway, so what can you do?

Oh, and Jason totally beat me, by almost half a minute.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Climbing Up On Solsbrooksie Hill...

Who's idea was this anyway?  I blame the Crim foundation for packaging this race in with the Crim race and tempting us to sign up for both.  When it's spring/summer and you're in your tip-top shape of the season, it's no big deal to say "Yeah, another half-marathon after the Crim and just after your big whoop."  I'm no longer in that zone.

Jason and I got an early jump as to not repeat the rush of the Martian Race.  We left way too early.  I also didn't prepare for the 40 degree temperatures, and unless I wanted to run in a large green corduroy GAP coat, I thought I was just going to have to let my teeth chatter for 2 hours before the race.  Luckily the Brooksie Way's shirt was a nice red long sleeve shirt, so that just got added under the running ensemble, which was just a "Little Lebowski Urban Acheiver" t-shirt.  I guess I just expected it to warm up like every other day had.
Red LS "Tech" Shirt
Even with that, Jason and I were still finding excuses to duck into the heated tents, and spent a lot of time in the big tent where my wedding's DJ was playing lots of classic rock tunes.  We eventually went to the outside world 10 minutes before the race and lined up just behind the 10 min pace, and then we waited through about 40 minutes of announcements about the race being delayed before the race actually started.  There goes my body temperature...

Of course that never lasts long.  Even with it probably being 45 degrees now, it only takes about 1/2 of a mile before I'm actually accumulating a few sweat droplets on my brow, and by 3/4 they're starting to flow toward gravity's pull.  The first sweat of the race has begun, and now it's time for the traditional look-around.  Who's looking at me sweating already and giving me the traditional pity look like "oh honey, you're not gonna make it."  Uh huh...there it is.  It never fails.  Do not be alarmed, ma'am, this is a normal occurence.  I will  might be fine.

For the first 4 miles, Jason and I went side-by-side at a seemingly slowish pace.  The way we've slacked off, the goal of this one was to "just finish."  That goal didn't get much loftier as we were getting caught by Riley the drubbler, who is awesome, granted, but is not exactly moving at warp speed because he's also dribbling 3 basketballs.  So when a man at least twice your age can dribble 3 balls and catch you, it gets in your head a bit.

I wasn't making it much further in the state I was in, though, so the second we hit a line of trees, I warned Jason I needed a leak break and told him to keep on going so he wouldn't think I got hurt and stop.  Then as soon as I saw an opening, I was off the trail.  I wasn't going to make the 13 miles without one, so I decided to get it out of the way and lighten the load, rather than feel like I had a very large surgically implanted Capri Sun pouch in my lower abdomen for 5-6 more miles and then have to go anyway.  That's a first, ladies and gents.  Never in my history have I had a mid-race break to go shoot the pink pistol at nature's firing range.

With that out of the way, I did a nice hard push to catch back up to Jason, which took about 2 miles or so.  I still suspect he held back for me to get back up there, because I shouldn't have caught up that quick given how long my break had been.  Even with my break, we still had a nice 1:05:00 split going at the halfway point in the park.  We had a short conversation about picking it up to try to get under 2:00:00, but my knowledge of what was left to come pretty much quashed that train of thought.

That was probably wise in the end, too.  The whole rest of that race is like this...
Rochester Hills, Brooksie miles 7-13 (visual approximation)

I don't think there was another 1/2 mile of straight land after mile 8.  It was all up and down, with very little down.  Every time you get to the top of a hill, there's another one right in sight.  There were several times where I said to myself "I swear, if I get up above this one, and there's another hill, I'm just going to quit."  Every time, there was another hill, but there was no quit.  Back when we first started running, Jason and I would lie to each other about a hill being the "last hill" just to keep the other going.  He did it to me on the trails.  I did it to him on the Crim course at the Boo-Radleys when we did our first run on that.  Of course, when you say it aloud and other racers believe you, they don't seem to be as amused.  The hills never really actually ended.  Sorry we're liars, but we only really meant to lie to ourselves.  You should stop eavesdropping.  Besides, the place is called Rochester Hills for a reason, did you really think there would only be 3 hills?

"Then it's not just a clever name..."
Even with a few of the hills in there being murder and almost making us want to stop, we talked after the race about this point being somewhat of a morale builder.  We've totally blown our training, but we were over halfway through and, even with all the hills, we knew at this point we were still going to make it.  We knew it so much that Jason and I allowed ourselves to be talked into a beer along the way about mile 8 or 9.  After that beer, we were a little less convinced, but we shook that off and, all-in-all, I was probably wrongly convinced that it helped me.  Another new thing to put on the list...first "during beer" ever.  Whatever, we were just having fun at this point.  Imagine that, having fun at a half-marathon while complaining how little you've done and how out of shape you are.  Who would have ever thought we'd see that day?

A couple 10 or 20 (5?) or so more "last hills" and we were done.  We both made a nice charge at the end to make sure that the front-runner speedwalker guy wasn't going to beat us (those hills really gave him the advantage at the end) and finished about a second apart.  We didn't feel like hanging out long, and I had places to be (church, family, friend's going away party).  So we left almost immediately after, got on the shuttle bus back to the parking lot (a real nice touch by the race to save our legs, I might add), and drove home. 
First time running over 10 miles and not sweating through ALL of my shirt

It was a great race, and it was a challenging one as well.  I'm glad it's over, though.  There won't be anything over a 10K from here out, and I'm good with that.  I'm also good with the 2:14:24, which, for the record is better than the goal I set to beat the DxA2 time, which I honestly in my heart-of-hearts knew I couldn't do, but still did.  Not as good as the Panda time, but that was in the dark on a totally flat course, and I wasn't expecting a miracle. 
Medal # uhh... who knows?

I skipped the Big House Big Heart to go to an orchard and pick pumpkins and have cider and doughnuts, but I'm sure I'll do the tailgate challenge this weekend.  I'm skipping Turkey Trot Detroit out of spite for them screwing my shirt situation last year, and will probably stay in Flint for the local one.  Other than that, don't expect too much from me.  I still have two goals on the board, including finishing a double loop on the Crim course and running a race out of state.  I doubt either will happen, but I will let you know if I manage to get a clean slate.  It could happen...

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Setting the Scene

It's been no secret to my wife, my friends, my family, or anyone who has watched me only post once since the Crim that I've been in a horrible funk here.  The Crim is my Superbowl, so if I have success there it's simply natural for the runner in me to, in effect, be "going to Disney World."

Also, don't forget, despite the Brooksie being this past weekend, it was the least of my concerns.  I had better things to think about.


I was occupied with the annual Red Wings/Maple Leafs game with my friends.  Last year I rooted hard for the Wings and made good fun of the Leafs (and Dayle our Canadian pal) the whole game, so it's only natural, given I don't really care about either team, to show up decked out in a Leafs jersey with a stocking cap on and a cup of Tim Hortons.  Dayle's reaction upon first seing me was priceless, and being an ironic Maple Leafs fan at Joe Louis Arena is an entertaining way to go, even if you do waste a little time of your day making sure you learn the Canadian National Anthem.  What can I say, there's still that natural actor in me from playing leads in school plays.
"I know that you wanna be Canadian..."
I also bailed out Jason by getting my brother to come and pay for an extra ticket.  Everyone I know declined to stay home and watch the Tigers/Yankees game, but his cable was out anyway, so he jumped in.  To my friends:  Sorry you stayed home just to watch a lot of rain on the tellie...suckers.  The lessons here are:  1)never assume that a lady will actually go to sports with you and 2) never stay home to watch things when you could be doing something (it's lame).

Quickly following our nuptuals, my wife's maid of honor had her wedding this weekend.  I had a few tasks.

1)  Figure out something to wear - Now, just to be clear, I am not your hopeless, fashion-challenged male that has no idea how to dress himself.  I may not be the traditional handsome debonaire man here, but when it comes to nice clothes that work with my body type, I have an arsenal, and I can bring the heat.

Slight problem, though.  All of my suits, that I figured would be fine, now fit me like a child that got into daddy's closet.  My jackets have reached sleeping bag status.  Now what?

2)  Set up for the wedding - Mike and Katie did so much behind the scenes of our wedding that I hadn't realized, so I owed them HUGE.  I knew that Katie's parents would be giving me things to do, and I was good with that.  I was even glad I would be able to return the favor and help them.  The one thing I didn't know I would be doing is carrying their wedding cake (handmade by her sister) from inside the house to the reception tent outside.  Apparently Mike did it for us, and it stressed him out, so now it was my turn.

3)  Pray hard - Friday's weather was cold, rainy, and awful  Less than a month ago, it's 91 for our wedding and suddenly we have mid-40s.  If I'm a bride and see Friday's weather, and head to our house with some things for the next day still left undone...I'm freaking out.  Katie was obviously stressed, but not as much as you'd expect.  I was praying and hoping beyond hope that they did not get dumped on, because at those temps it would have been intolerable. 

I woke up at 7:30 Saturday morning to make sure I figured out something good to wear.  Patching together a great dress shirt that my sister bought for me (that I've never wore because I was too fat), a brand new tie, an really nice sweater my mom got for me 3 years ago, and an old hat that belonged to grandpa, I was able to piece together something classy and old-fashioned where everything matched.  The only problem was that I had to go with my feet-killing brown shoes that rub my heels like fatter me's thighs in corduroy.

Katie's parents had me do a lot, but nothing unreasonable.  The cake was a two man job, and oh boy was it scary.  I spent most of the trip going backwards, on wet grass, down a slight hill, with lumpy, uneven ground, with fallen hickory nuts lining the yard.  It was frightening, and in addition there were:  the stairs, navigating around tent stakes, straps, and ropes, and going around tables and chairs.  The collective sigh from me and the other chum carrying this thing is the loudest, most relieved, most synchronized sigh I've heard in my life.

So all went well, except for nobody even touching a pony keg of Coors that Mike bought instead of what he and Katie agreed on because he simply waited too long to order.  Oh well, live and learn.  The guests didn't even finish two 24 packs of Sam Adams Octoberfest (I only had 2), so there really wasn't a lot of drinking going on, and the reception ended somewhat early.  I'm guessing Mike did not try to do what I did, and attempt to drink it all the next day, because he's smarter than this guy...

"Wheeze the juice"

Does beer kill weeds?  Let's find out.
Obviously the Brooksie already happened and you can probably figure out who I am and how I've done if you look through the results, but "Spoilers..."
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