Thursday, May 31, 2012

I had about the laziest Memorial Day weekend  that you could have, and I didn't bother running a lick (other than Monday, which isn't really the weekend, jut a bonus day).  I've been keeping this nasty secret about a few pseudo injuries here that are just old, persistent ones or the new hottness in hurting.  The truth is that right now my legs are taking a beating.  That's half the reason I've decided to only run twice a week and just bump the distances on those days.  The legs need the down time. 

Drum toe is still probably broken.  It rarely bothers me, but on a rare occasion I land on my right big toe too much, I get a nice sharp pain.  The toenail still seems to have it's permanent black cross-stripe as well.  You know, though, it's a toe, what would they even do if I went to the doc?  Maybe say "stay off it."  Screw that.

Gross striped toenail
My left knee was starting to feel like it was out of whack and was making some nice cracking noises and weird sensations.  I even had a few instances of it feeling likes someone lit the inside of it on fire, getting random burning sensations throughout it.  It was about that time that I gave it a break.  After the Wed-Mon hiatus, and strapping on the old trusty knee brace for the weekend, I haven't had any more issue with it.

I think I mentioned the random sharp pain in my ankle at the top of my foot.  That's was still happening at the tail end of the Monday run, but during yesterdays nearly 16-miler, it was of no consequence.  I'm always paranoid of this ankle anyway, because it's trampoline ankle (view at your own risk) and that thing has bitten me back a few times.

So because of these things, I've been taking longer rest periods, resisting urges to run on the weekends, and have been really cautious about my form.  With the extra weight, I really can't afford to go out there and hack it up.  I need to keep good solid form, otherwise, I'm going to tear my legs apart.  I think I've corrected most of that issue. 

The other thing is, I'm not wearing those Nikes running ever again.  Screw them.  They are dead to me, except for walking the dog (maybe). 

Either way, back to recapping the laziness....

-Blew off hanging with friends and just grilled marinated chicken and squash at home

-Skipped 5K run
-Slept in with the lady
-Went to Starlite for pancakes and eggs
-Played with the puppy
-Fed Ducks
-Mexican Food with dude friends
-Play Bad News Baseball on NES
-4 Pints of Bell's Two-Hearted @ The Torch
-Dark Horse Brewing takeover @ The Red Baron...Double Crooked Tree IPA and 7C's IPA w/ Southwest Spring Rolls
-Listen to bad karaoke and entertain the DJ with our commentary

-Wonder what kind of person gets a hangover on 6 beers (I don't care that two were 12%ABV)
-Miss lunch with family
-Finally have some food @6pm
-Go over to friend's place and bring Hard Cider (Strongbow, Angry Orchard)
-Get ass kicked at Call of Duty Modern Warfare (never played before and my spatial memory is virtually FPS games are not my forte).
-Go home and cuddle wife

-Go to early church veteran's ceremony at the cemetary with my mom and sister
-Drive out to put a flag on Great Great Grandpa's grave.  They usually forget him when they put them on the vets' graves on Memorial Day.  His stone and service engravings are pretty much washed and faded away at this point, but he was in the Union Army for the Civil War (as was his son).  You can actually barely see his wife and his first names anymore.
-Go for death march 6 mile run in 93 degree heat instead of straight to Memorial Day cookout (bad move only a runner would make)
-Drink Summer Shandy, a Labatt's, a Strongbow, and eat 10+ corners of watermelon, and a few pieces of grilled chicken while watching "Tucker and Dale vs. Evil" for the 4th time.

Thank You Great Great Grandpappy
Other than that, not much to report.  The 16 mile run on Wednesday didn't even feel all that tough.  I think that's the furthest I've went, but perhaps I'm mistaken.  Either way, that marathon out in October almost seems too far away now.  At this point I just know I can do it, as long as nothing gives out on me and I catch that injury bug that seems to be flying around and touching everyone.  You're not all first borns are you?  Hopefully it will pass over me.  I may go spread some Gu on my doorway just in case...

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Why do they hate me, Pat? I am not a crook...

It's official, my neighborhood hates runners, and they're on facebook...

Now, for the record, I can be on board a bit with the annoyance with the CRIM training groups.  I've expressed my disdain for them in several blogs in the past, and it usually comes down to these points:

1)  Large organized groups, in general, kind of annoy me
2)  They expect all traffic to go around them and refuse to even slightly get over for cars
3)  There are groups of walkers that take "breaks" by walking even slower, and some of these people are thinner and younger than I'll ever be, especially considering I'm not going to ever get younger (but if I could, I'll take my 23 year old body...thanks).
4)  Most of the groups are more social club than training guild
5)  They think I'm the weirdo for going alone (or just with one other), and yell at me to join them..."Sha! if"

Outside of that, I love seeing people out running, biking, rollerblading, etc. in my neighborhood.  I think it's a sign of a vibrant area that actually resembles a "real city;" something we fail to look like most of the time.  There are even times, when they're behaving themselves, that I even love the CRIM trainer people (when they're actually running, not in my way, and only talking to me to say "hello").  Apparently I'm in the minority, though.  There's been a recent barrage of comments in our neighborhood's facebook group about there being a "runner nuisance."

Now mind you, most of the people are real-world personifications of Gladys Kravitz from Bewitched.  They are constantly paranoid of anything out of the norm, and must constantly look out their windows in fear.  In fact their fear and attitude is so bad, it almost makes me, a lifetime goody-two-shoes with no criminal record, fantasize about kicking their door in during the middle of the night and running off.  I think the attitude they have toward people of the other neighborhoods and visitors actually fosters more resentment and problems than their actions solve.
It seems like any time they see someone walking in the neighborhood, or driving through with a car that is old and/or dirty, they believe that person is "casing the neighborhood."  There is a constant posting of photos of people walking/running by their houses to the neighborhood group page listed as suspicious activity.  Maybe sometimes it's warranted, but most often it's not, and I'm not even sure about all the legalities of posting people's photos without their knowledge.  It seems you can't so much as turn your head toward one of the neighborhood houses without becoming some sort of suspect, even if you think their rose garden is impeccable.

Anyway, because of all this, the new suggestion is to pave a path around one of our parks for people to walk, run, and bike on to "keep them out of the the streets."  Apparently posting anything against this idea makes me a negative villiage idiot in their eyes, but I'm looking for a trial with a jury of my peers, so any of my fellow runners that read this, I'd love to hear from you.  I can't trust the neighborhood people, because when they see a stray shopping cart in the area, they pull out their "Jump to Conclusions" mat and figure it must have been used in some sort of robbery.

"You see, it would be this mat that you would put on the floor...
and would have different CONCLUSIONS written on it that you could JUMP TO. "

One of the problems I see with paving this and making a path is that it's only 1 1/2 freaking miles.  No self-respecting biker is ever going to use this, unless they're a goldfish that has fallen into green ooze and is a new side character in TMNT named Aquarius, and he'll need a really big camel pack.  As a runner, I can't even see using it for anything but random speed work, and we already have a track in our neighborhood.  You won't see anything but a tree line, flat grass that used to be a golf course, and part of a road...over and over.  It would bore me to tears.  Maybe if they open the par 3 golf course again, it will be a good way for ladies to keep an eye on their husbands and ruin their golf time (which, I'll let you in on a little secret, is really about tall beers and cigars).

The other thing is, we already have over 12 miles of paved, traffic free trails around here.  If you're willing to be a bit adventurous and actually go on a road, there's more.  I run and bike these trails.  I don't feel unsafe, and there are men, women, and children visible on most of them.  They run by the river, the farmer's market, man made waterfalls, and all sorts of landmarks and statues that, before I lived here, didn't know existed.   There is also a rare General Motors EV1 electric car sitting in one of the buildings just off the trail.  Running here, it's awesome.  I love it, and I will use your neighborhood streets to get to and from them whenever I please.

There's some overlap, but you get the point.  That's not even all of it.
I know maybe some of these things aren't perfect for everyone, but it's a lot better than what is being suggested now.  If anything, we should be throwing more money behind the county people trying to interconnect our city trails to the surrounding towns.  I know my biking has been abysmally non-existent, but if these trails were completed, I really would get out more.  There's even a group that gets together to bike these trails on Sundays.

I'm sorry I'm shooting down an idea for a glorified Dachshund racing track, but I don't think I'm the one being negative. I know what the city has to offer, and instead of cowering in my home and resenting people for running in fear they may be casing my house. Share the road, everyone, and watch for pedestrians in a neighborhood. I know you probably must drive like the old lady from "Moving Violations," but I'm pretty sure we're not a problem and I've never seen a runner laying dead in the road, despite how many times you people seem to have tried to tag me. I'm sorry I may scare you when I come out of nowhere and you're staring off into space, standing still, talking to the voices in your head, or whatever that is you're doing, but I'm not going away. There are other runners in this neighborhood that aren't going away either. In fact, I swear we're multiplying. I even have two copycat fat guys that have followed my lead. I hope a few more people from this area find this blog and start running around here too, if only to piss of some silly ol' biddies.

I've even seen recent comments about wanting to ban all the runs in the neighborhood because 5K kept someone from getting home. I know it sucks, but sometimes you have to wait for things. I don't see you threatening to rip up the railroad tracks because you were stopped by a train. In case you didn't know, in real cities these inconveniences happen all the time. Roads get blocked for every reason under the sun, because things are happening. Real cities also have a TON of runners. I know you live in Flint, and you're not used to this, but these are actually good things. If you really want a successful city, this is what would come with it.

I'm even wondering if I should add to the mayhem and make my own 5K in my neighborhood. We could call it the "Case the Neighborhood 5K." It will go along the streets of the most bitchy, paranoid people in the neighborhood, making sure to block their driveway. There would be periodic, mandatory stops where you must stare directly at a specified neighborhood home until you see the person looking back through the window. The participants will dress as shady looking as possible with: ski masks, hoodies, prison jumpsuits, ripped/dirty clothes, old Charlotte Hornets Starter Jackets, backpacks full of simulated scrap metal (pvc wrapped with Reynolds wrap), shirts that say "I love shopping carts," skateboards, cardigans, death metal t-shirts, etc. It will be sponsored by White Castle with age group winners for time, costumes, and staring getting complimentary crave cases (get it..."Case" the Neighborhood...).

Your move, Chateau la Blanc...

Friday, May 18, 2012

Follow That Beard! (River Bank Run Pt. 2)

After crawling out of the man made ditch I made in the right side of the super soft mattress, waking up to both the alarm and the Grand Rapids buses that make a "meep meep" sound like the Muppet barbershop quartet covering Nirvana, I started getting myself ready for the long run ahead.  I carted all my stuff back to the car so my lady didn't have to cart my stuff too, because she was probably going to have to be out of the there before I got back.  Making a last minute reach into my bag for something, I ended up cutting my finger nice and open on my razor.  I tried to stop it as much as possible, but I needed to get a band-aid, which forced me to wake up my poor wife hours before she had to, because there are magic wormholes in ladies' purses and I would never find them myself.

With that crisis averted, I went downstairs to eat some free hotel breakfast, and watched some of the 5Kers cruise on by us.  Then I hopped up in the elevator to make a quick trip back to the room.  I decided to take my camera.  I shared the elevator with a big group of ladies who introduced themselves.  The only name I remembered was Lisa, but that's because her name was printed twice on her shirt.  That helps.

What didn't help was all the bladder nerves I was getting for this one.  I guess there's a first time for everything.  Luckily I got ahold of myself and started walking to the corral.  As soon as I walk in and take my spot between the 10 and 10:30 pacers, I hear my name, and wondered who the heck was calling me, and it was Lisa's group again.  We wished each other good luck, and before I knew it, we were off.

Making Way to the Corral
One thing I noticed immediately was the amount of support out on the roads for us.  In a way it was almost overstimulating getting that rush right off the bat, and everywhere you looked for that first stretch was a sign of inspiration.

Right off the bat, you want to set a goal.  I like to set goals based off someone I see in front of me keeping a good pace.  Some people like to pick people with inspirational shirts or a shirt of a race they like.  Some people like to choose a person with an attractive posterior.  My selection process is a little bit weirder, and this time I chose to keep up with this dude with a sweet beard.  I just figured it would get sweaty and scratchy and he would slow down.  Either that, or he would get Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer urges and "run off into the hills...or something."  Either way, I figured I could keep up with him.
That's right Keyrock, I'm coming for you!
After running away from the city, we ducked onto a trail, where I was bored to tears because everything looked the same for MILES!
Yay, this for 8 miles.  "I'm having a good time....not"
I'm pretty sure this was one of the most monotonous riverside runs I've ever had.  I know people say that this is a great course, but after all that excitement off the get-go, this lull killed me.  There's very little variation or color in the vegetation, little to no animals, and the river is so dead slow here it could be mistaken for a giant mud puddle.  Sure there were spurts of spectators rooting us on here and there along this stretch, but it was just enough to keep me awake.

When I woke up, I was at the halfway point...

I had held off using the reserves for long enough.  It was time to start moving faster.  I started to really move, and I felt like I could do so all day.  Watch out beard man, I'm coming for you...

Beard guy still at the left of frame.
I think it was about mile 9 that we started to climb a little bit, and there was actually a nice view off to the left...
...and my bearded friend (I'm a stalker)
About mile 10 or so we took a left by a DJ booth playing Beastie Boys "Fight For Your Right" and, feeling a sudden tiredness, I called upon the ghost of MCA for strength, and he obliged by carrying me really well for another 2 miles.  

Other than a small loss of strength two miles back, I was starting to pick up speed and really looking forward to finishing off strong.  Around the time we ran into the Coke bottling place I was good too, but shortly after everything stopped for me.  The 12.5-13.5 mile stretch, for some reason, was the hardest mile I've ever ran in my life.  I just lost it.  I didn't lose it just in my speed, either.  I've thought I hit walls before.  I hadn't.  This was a wall.  I wasn't willing out more than a step ahead, and I was done.  I could have easily sat right there and not moved until someone came to check on me, hopefully one of the Coke workers who randomly had a Mello Yello in his or her hands.
Those are bigger than 12oz, I don't care what the paint job says
There was no joking with myself to pull me out.  There was no picturing the wall scene in "Run Fatboy Run."  I wasn't even thinking to myself "why the hell do I do this crap?"  I was still technically running, but I probably could have walked that mile faster.  Just that stretch took me almost 12 minutes.  I wasn't even mentally tough enough to pull myself out of the rut.  I wasn't even really thinking.  If I were, I would have wondered why I was dying there when I've done the half marathon distances before.  I was used to this...what the hell?

I can't even say I know what happened.  In the end it just went away.  My strength returned, and my brain started working again, and oooh look there's a stone dragon...
Don't remember this type from "How to Train Your Dragon"
There were also Swan Boats...wait a minute...this isn't Boston Common...

"Stop lookin' at me, Swan"
After coming out from under a bridge I could start to see and feel the end of this thing...
Come toward the light
Before I knew it we were at the end...
1/2 mile to go...
I saw my girl at the side of the road, and she got a picture of me as I was running away...

I reconnected with the beard guy, and ended up finishing directly behind him (and the finishing video shows it too!).  I'm thinking about putting an ad on Craigslist to find him so we can be running buddies, and maybe I'll grow a mustache again and that would be my thing when we start the pop duo (I'm thinking Hall & Oates meets Wham!).  It would be epic. 

As soon as I stopped running the calves started to bunch up, so I got my medal quick and kept moving until I back-tracked to find my wife sitting on a bench.  I sat on the ground, stretched, and gathered myself while she took a photo of me looking disgusting...
I don't wanna move...
We went out to the car, and I changed, and we walked to the HopCat to get some food.  I didn't drink a lot while I was there, but their house DIPA called Raging Centaur was really good.  Maybe it was the run, but this was one of the most drinkable DIPAs I've ever had.  I was surprised.  Most breweries can't do one of these worth a crap and they just do them to say they have and to flash some high ABV%.  
Flashing some medal, refusing to put the beer down for the photo
The HopCat's menu made me laugh twice, and our server was really nice to us..
Laugh #1
Laugh #2
I went with the HopCat Grandwich, which was the best sloppy joe I've ever had in my life (sure, post race hunger talking, but it was good) with the jalapenos, crack fries, and melted cheese on top.  

I love you, Joe...
 I also heard very good things about the veggie wrap from across the table...

I had bites of that too, it was tasty

After the food, we were ready to head home and drove back so we could see our dog child, who we left with my dogbaby's momma's momma, and we took her out to dinner for watching our dog/Mother's Day.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Bad Race Prep for People that like Good Race Prep (River Bank Run - Pt. 1)

As shocking as it may seem, I don't believe I've ever been to Grand Rapids.  There it is a mere 2 hours away, and they have concerts, minor hockey and baseball, and breweries (including Founders).  However, I've never went there for anything, that is, until this past weekend.

If nothing else, I can always count on running to lead me to new things like volunteer work, a beach park when everyone else is sleeping, or a new city.  It's just the very nature of the beast; we end up doing a lot of things with our mornings that we wouldn't normally do. 

We got a bit of a later start than we should have, but, despite a horde of traffic all getting off at the same exit we needed, we eventually got to a parking ramp near our hotel.  We dropped the bags, and piled back in the car with about 20-30 minutes to get to Fifth Third Ballpark for the start of the Whitecaps/Loons game, which was starting at 6:35 for some reason (the Tigers usually play night games at 7:05 guys, follow your leader!).  We didn't quite make it.  For some reason, Grand Rapids seem to have issues with properly labeling streets and lanes for visitors, nevermind that it's summer in Michigan and it's time to rip up every piece of concrete that needed fixing the least. 

You'd see a sign that points you to an expressway's eastbound entrance, wanting west, and realize as you drive past that the entrance labeled east was also for west.  The same seems to go for north and south.  Also if you see a sign that points you left going to an expressway, don't get in the left lane, you'll either end up going left down another road against your will or it will be a turn-around sending you on a 180 back down the opposite way of the road you're on.  Things like that always get me to put on my conspiracy theory hat, because it seems like there's towns out there that seem to purposely set themselves up to confuse outsiders, and I think it's done by design to keep the so-called "riff raff" out.  I think GR has joined that list.

Anyway, we made it to the Whitecaps game about the middle of the 1st inning and found our seats, which were absurdly close for $14 (another reason to like minor league games).  Apparently not close enough for my wife to see if Nick Avila is as "cute" as his cousin, Alex (the Tiger's catcher), though.
Baseball makes us happy
After sitting in our seats watching the game for a couple innings and watching a 3 year old next to us eat a bag of cotton candy the size of his head, I started looking around to try to catch a glimpse of the infamous Fifth Third Burger.  Not having any luck, my lady and I went up on the concourse and I got her the obligatory ice cream helmet for each new baseball stadium we visit, and began looking for where they sold it.  Finally, I saw the sign (not an Ace of Base reference).

Catching a glimpse of someone actually buying one, ignoring the fact I was running my longest official race ever the next day, and forgetting that I really wasn't all that hungry, I made the mistake of saying to myself "I can eat that."  So I put in my order, which somehow ended up under the name "Josh," and after receiving my burger behemoth I was off I went to the "Competition Area."

My wife helped document the adventure while mentally (not physically) shaking her head and being disgusted at me.

In the end, it was just too much for one man.  I made it a little over half, and that was as far as it was going to go.  I have my doubts that even my most alcohol fueled hunger would never be able to conquer this baby, even if I had a full 9 innings.  One of the biggest obstacles is simply how salty it is, and the meat is bordering on having a boiled taste to it.  I would have to have a gallon jug of water just to make up for the salt, and if I'm being completely honest, it's just not all that tasty.

After admitting failure to the judges, I retreated back to our seats to watch the rest of the game.  I was still having trouble with rooting for the White Caps and had an accidental "get up there!!!" when a Loons player cranked a ball deep in left-center field.  Sorry, everyone around me..."owa tana siam."

The Whitecaps ended up winning the game 5-2, scoring nearly every one of their runs while we were at a concession stand or the team shop.  After the game we took a few photos outside.

Belle Tire!
Stadium Front
Original Tiger sign, likely a stadium original from 1994
 (when the Whitecaps came to be, and when matching versions were hanging and painted on Tiger Stadium)

Awesome Whitecaps VW van (front now says WM)
We went back to our hotel room at City Flats which seemed like the hotel lovechild of a techie and a hippie with it's sleek, well-designed, futuristic, energy efficient goodness.  The bed was super comfortable, and it was almost as far as we wanted to go, but we got back up and headed out because, like The Cars, we like the nightlife baby.

There were a lot of bars that were too busy, too hoochie, too stuffy, etc.  After a little walking around, we found a place called The Pyramid Scheme (too dirty, too 80's, too kitschy, too poorly's perfect!).  We pretty much had to go there.  The first thing you see coming in is a T-Rex skull (not a real one, but a very good mold) hanging on the wall.  The second thing we noticed was a very large painting of Bebop and Rocksteady from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  The place is just chocked full of pinball machines and they had a few Short's beer taps, among the other Michigan brews.  At that point we knew we had to stay.  The barstaff was really nice, and even though we didn't look rock 'n' roll enough for the majority of the crowd there, nobody seemed to notice how out of place we looked with our baseball stuff on.  It was just our kind of place, minus the beers being $5, but I think that's probably standard for GR.  It's just our cheap Flint minds that think you get those for $3-3.50 normally, and even then, as a semi-regular, there are times when my bill magically has items missing from it at a few places when the owners are around.

Later, while still at the bar.....

"Short's Chocolate Wheat is delicious!...Really delicous...what time is it?  Uh-oh...."


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

I'll get to it...honest...but for now let's talk beer...

I'm sure some of you are wondering how my River Bank Run went, being it was going to be my longest official run ever and all.  I swear I'll get to it, but I'm still gathering some photographic evidence, deciding what I want to keep and trim off, wondering if you guys actually want to see a little blood in a post, and deciding how inappropriate I want to be.  The night before the race is mildly epic in its own right, so it may even get its own post. 

RBR post(s) "Under Construction"
As far as the run, I can say I've recovered from it, which is more than I can say about yesterday.  When I was told there would be a Founders tap takeover at Ashley's in Ann Arbor and a chance to complete what, for me, has been a 4 year mission of actually tasting the Kentucky Breakfast Stout (only eclipsed by the 6 year mission of Sam Adam Utopias, which I couldn't even get at the Boston Brewery itself, even telling them it was my honeymoon and a taste would be a nice late wedding present), it didn't take a lot of convincing from my friends to get me down there to hang with them last night.  Apparently we're still not too old for weeknight beer outings, as this was our second this month. 

The Ann Arbor odd couple ("El Jefe" and the "White Flash") got to Ashley's about an hour before us and fought the good fight to get us a table.  They were instructed that, under no circumstance, was the KBS keg allowed to go dry without them reserving me a glass of it.  The keg did go dry, and as my wife and I drove the last 20 minutes to Ann Arbor, she read to me the several texts with pictures of my beer and hilariously worded empty threats about them drinking it if I didn't show soon (e.g. "Hurry or mean ol' "El Jefe" is going to drink me!").

However, as I walked through the door, it was still there, still pretty cool, and well worth the drive.  Easily the best oak-aged stout I've had, and dangerously easy to drink.  With its 11.2% ABV, it's a good thing they were out.  They also saved me some of their Canadian Breakfast Stouts (10.6% ABV) to try, but I'm pretty sure that stuff was brewed by Buddy the Elf. 
Way too much maple taste, Eh
Before they even tapped the Founders Better Half (11.9% ABV), an oak-aged version of the Old Curmudgeon, I had put in an order for one, and "El Jefe" insisted I try the Left Hand Milk Stout Nitro (only 6% ABV this time).  Unfortunately, I got a bad pour of it, and after tasting himself, my friend reassured me that this was not a typical result for that beer (not good).  So, at least for now, the title in that category still belongs to Saugatuck's Neopolitan Milk Stout (which is actually dead tied in ratings with the Left Hand on BeerAdvocate).

After another Red's Rye PA (6.6%) we headed out to Dominick's so everyone could get sangrias in a jar.  I declined, which, after tasting my wife's sangria, I realized was a huge mistake on my part, and sat begrudgingly drinking my Bell's Two-Hearted Ale (7.0%) while we talked about our friend's recent wedding, our wedding before, and who may or may not be the next to go.  About 5 months back in Chicago, when talking to "El Jefe," my wife told him that, even being a rare fit like ourselves, there are people out there like him, and his lady is out there, even if she's very hard to find.  Only, with the alcohol from that night, her actual words might have been that his match was "like sasquatch, only cuter."  So that got referenced again last night, several times, when referring to people's potential existing counterparts....which usually led to many girlish giggles (only one of which was actually coming from a female).

"You mean like Quatchi?..."
We left there after about an hour to join our other friend ("Guidemaster") who drove down late, and we all grabbed a Centennial IPA (7.2%), and after that began a nice long sobering up process.  It was a very good thing we started this night early, and stopped early, otherwise we would have been sleeping on someone's floor and driving into work from Ann Arbor this morning.  

We walked around for a bit, and not having a Taco Bell within proximity, we did the next best thing and, probably much to the dismay of the crew @, actually went to Tio's, spent money there, got the Mt. Nacheesmo, and split it 5 ways.  John and Jeremy, we're all sorry, but I still love your blog, and I know you're right about the place (except for the Chiles Rellenos with Spanish Three Cheese, though you can't ever go wrong stuffing a pepper with things, so maybe that doesn't count).  Sometimes you just want nachos that are slopped together, though.  I mean, we would have been willing to melt kraft singles on a plate of the Las Fortunitas chips you get at Costco, if it came to that.  That goes especially for me, because, outside of my morning Nature Valley bar, I hadn't eaten anything (yes, I know I should eat more regularly throughout the day).  At least I can explain where the good reviews for Tios that always used to piss you off  (I know you ended the verbal war against them a while ago) are coming from (drunks). 

I've got a longer run on the docket today, and then I'm going to give myself a little time off.  I have a nagging knee issue that needs a break before something happens.  It's not a bad weekend to take off of running anyway. My best friend is coming in from California this weekend and we're going to the Tigers game  Saturday.  It's also World Expo of Beer weekend in Frankenmuth, Mamma Mia! (don't hate on ABBA, I'll cut you!...) is in town, and there's always Comic Con in Novi if I really need something to do (and want to try to meet Billy Dee Williams and Yvonne Craig).  I'm sure I can stay busy without too much urge to run, expecially if today aggravates my knee again, but we'll see. 

Friday, May 11, 2012

Watch out Westsiders

I'm coming for you, Grand Rapids, and I'll be taking over 15+ miles of your roads, likely wearing this

It's incredible!
In an ideal world, I would have found an old Billy Joel "River of Dreams" concert shirt at the thrift store to wear for River Bank Run tomorrow, but a mermaid and a seagull on a t-shirt's printed tie with the sleeves ripped off is pretty good too.

There's only a slight chance this shirt will be trumped in the late throws of tonight, so you can pretty much take it to the (river) bank that I'll be going with this.

First stop is the White Caps game against the Loons tonight.  I'm used to rooting for the Loons so I will try to hold back my cheering for them while trying hard to reprogram myself to root for my franchise's (Tigers) minor league club.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Trail to the King, Baby!

While most of the people in my palmy mid-mitten region were inside reinacting that Zooey Deschanel iPhone commercial (pretending their senses can't pick up the fact its raining, not knowing how follow instructions on a Campbell's label to make a simple can of soup, and being messy procrastinators) I went out to run with my friend on the trail. 

We keep incrementally adding mileage to our little runs we're doing together, and the slow, steady, deliberate ramp up is really starting to work.  Remember the 13 miler that was just for fun this past weekend, well tack on another 11ish miler.  With River Bank Run coming this weekend, I'd usually be resting the legs and getting ready to kill that, but right now it's just another run.  Did you get that?  The longest official race I've done to date is "just another run," and we've started to put up double digit runs as just our "regular" runs.  What happened to run 3 to 4 miles and call it good?   I don't even think my legs wake up and know they're running until mile 6...

On top of that, it's not like we were out there dying yesterday, either.  We're taking running jumps over puddles, stopping to rip up some garlic mustard and hold it in our hands whooping like it was a trophy kill (okay, that was just me), talking and laughing pretty much the entire time without ever really being out of breath, and not one complaint about the rain weighing us down (it's mostly water weight!).

Dramatization of my running "Hobo Royalty" at its finest
The small leg we added on from last week runs right by the Burger King, and, feeling bad over all the smack I talked about them in my last entry, I felt the need to make nice with the royal court.  Of course we're training so there's no stopping and eating.  What I did do was pick up one of the abandoned Burger King crowns laying adjacent to their parking lot and put it over my Killian's hat for the rest of my run.  That's 5+ miles of free promotion and environmental stewardship.  I hope that makes us cool.  With the 1/4 mile stretch right before your restaurant and the high traffic, I'm guessing at least one person saw my crown and pulled in, or perhaps that old lady that laughed at me when we headed back into the trail decided to stop in.  While she was laughing I completely forgot I was wearing the crown on my head, and ran very self-consciously for the next 1/2 mile, and I would hope that my insecure thoughts were worth at least a fish sandwich (as we say, regarding the NHL as well, BK..."bring back the whale!").

Oooh baby, blubber on a bun!
Even after realizing it was because of the crown, you gotta kinda wonder if she was laughing, in part, because she thought we were running to and from Burger King.  

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

March Madness Winner Declared (in May)

A few months back I quadrupled down, not with burger patties on a Whopper or a pair of double down chicken sandwiches from KFC, but with pairs of shoes (  Besides, now that Leno is spokesman, and I saw that commercial where Steven Tyler is actually allowed within proximity of food, I'm not so sure I want to go to Burger King anymore.  I can handle a lot of disgusting things that may or may not happen in the fast food industry, but Steven Tyler near my food supply is where I draw the line. 

After much deliberation and a lot of wearing of all 4, I think I have my winner, but first let's go with the pros and cons of the ones that fell short.

Nike Air Revolution - I did honestly give them a fair shake, and I'm still wearing them here and there, but this was the first one taken out of the competition. 

Pros - These shoes are extremely light in weight.  They are pretty dang awesome looking.  They don't spring too hard, and they're pretty easy on the knees because of that.

Cons - Quite simply they hurt my feet.  They're good for short runs, but anything more and it feel like I got my midfoot beat in with a hammer.  I start to feel that happening while I run, so to ease it, I would revert back to my old heel-striking ways just to take off some of the hit damage to the midfoot.  Even early in runs I can just feel the pavement through the shoe, which I know some of those barefooter people love, but it didn't do me any favors.

Other - Chances are a big reason these aren't working is they are for people with flatter feet than me.  I can see that being the reason that my midfoot, and later my heel, got beat to death by this shoe

Puma Levaio

Pros - Like the Nike's, they are super light.  They have about the best airflow of any shoe I've ever had, and they're also one of the least restrictive shoes I've worn.  No matter how you have to run around and contort your foot to avoid things or however you land, they won't fight you back to hard.  That can be both good and bad at times, but I don't require a ton of support these days.  My ankles have stopped rolling themselves with their newly found strength.  These are also very easy on my knees, and that's always a plus.  At some point I will have to try these on a trail run.

 Cons - These have the opposite problem from the Adidas that spurred this search.  I feel like I'm only running on the inside of my foot.  I realize this is just a foot-type issue, though, and some insoles may make these work incredibly for me.  I can't go anything more that 7 or 8 miles without them becoming a bit of a problem.

Other - I really don't have anything else.  I mean I like that they have a super-kitty on them.  That's about all I got

New Balance 467 All Terrain 

Pros - For as built up as they are, they are super-light.  This shoe is built as tough as my initial impression and it has held up superbly.  I've taken them out just as much as the other 3 pairs, and they don't seem to wear yet.  If I were going for the most economical, long-lasting shoe I could buy for a big guy that puts up some fairly decent miles, I would go with these.  I also think you could run with these in about any given situation, and I've tried to do just that.

Cons - To be honest I haven't found one, other than they aren't perfectly molded to my foot.

Other - Maybe it's just another pro, but what happened to just normal shoes?   I really like how these are just a classic, normal-looking shoe.  I'm not really a flashy man...even though I say there's nothing wrong with liking a flashy man.

and now, your delayed March Madness champ...

Saucony Grid Cohesion 5

Pros - The comfort level of these shoes are out of this world.  The slight arch of my foot is cradled almost perfectly in these shoes to the point where they were nearly made for me.  I've been able to go long distances with them and not have any soreness in my feet.  I actually ran over 13 miles in these just for fun, and that's just not me.  They are also very fashionable for weddings (see last blog).  The shoe doesn't bounce me around too much and is the easiest on my knees out of the 4 shoes (with 2nd going to the Pumas).

Cons - My only complaint is with the durability, because I've already put a lot of wear on these, and it's only been 2 months (and I've been mixing in other shoes).

Other - In all fairness I've probably used these for a lot of the longer runs because of how much they've worked for me.

I will also mention that I reserve the right to change my opinion on these shoes at any time, as I try to find their niches within my running needs.  It may turn out that one is really really good for me running a 5K and one is perfect for something else.  I'm sure I'll wear all of them into a flat-soled death.

P.S. - I'm not compensated in any way for my opinion on any of these.  I don't think there's any company out there that would roll the dice and waste money on me, anyway.  Even if I like something and talk it up, who's going to listen to my opinion enough to influence what they buy?  That is unless there's some horde of fat runner people out there following me anonymously and hanging on my every word, and if there is, I'd like to know why you've chosen this particular fat guy, because there are a lot of better success stories out there.

I mean, I run alright, and I've dropped a good 60 pounds along the way, but I did just eat popcorn for dinner at the movies (the "The Five Year Engagement" was painfully hilarious) and just finished eating some pudding (at least it was fat free!).  I'm still closer to roll model than role model, but if I told you I was doing everything perfectly and you didn't see me get thinner or faster you'd just get discouraged.  I'm fine with people knowing I'm not a master of will and I struggle with doing simple things to make myself healthier.  Yep, while people struggle with busy, important lives, medical issues, family life, spouses at war overseas, injuries, deaths in the family, etc. and get out there and run and blog about it, I struggle with not eating pudding at 11pm.  Not exactly the epic embodiment of the human spirit, there, but at least I'm honest.

Besides, the blogosphere already has its superheroes.  I'm fine with being your Billy from Family Circus: usually lame, sometimes funny, and off in my own world playing by myself and too oblivious not to love every second of it.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Wedding March

After leaving work Friday, I put on the black dress shirt and pants, put on my Darth Vader tie (May the 4th be with you!), and headed up to Port Huron for a wedding rehearsal and dinner for our friends.  My wife was shooting the wedding, and was going to rehearsal for some photos, but more to scout out the venue for the next day.

Dinner was at the Quay Street Brewery.  The food was delicious, but the beer was not good.  Bad enough to leave to a bar called the Brass Rail and drink miller drafts the rest of the night.  The Brass Rail is an interesting bar.  As Port Huron was a former league rival city to our former hockey team, the Flint Generals, I recognized right away that this particular bar was likely where the Icehawk/Bordercats/Flags/Beacons (not in that chronological order, I know) used to hang out after games.  In fact it still smelled ever-so-slightly like a hockey rink.

The Brass Rail was just one of those places with character that I tend to find charming.  It was just so reminiscent of an era when minor hockey was more like "Slap Shot" than "The Tooth Fairy."  It has the old circular bi-color black and red leather booths, a giant mirror with a gorgeous wood-worked arch with women carved in on either side, photos of old hockey players, and various creatures of the sea on the wall.  The beer selections are limited and unpretentious, and there's always a game on the TV.  After coming from a wedding rehearsal dinner, we were extremely overdressed, but the patrons and our server were still very welcoming.  If I ever went back to Port Huron, I'd stop here.  Also, they don't close by 11, like this chicken place.

I wish you were open
The next morning I got up just after 7am, put on some running shorts and a t-shirt, and headed out for my out-of-town jog.  At first it was pretty easy road running.

Colonial Woods Church
After a while, it got a little dicey, though.  I kept going up and down curbs and from grass to pavement.

Foot off-roading?...
I was hoping to find a park or a beach to visit as my turn-around, especially because I was running close to Lake Huron...
River lake yet

Hello Again Big Boy

Sweet docked boat mural on a party store
Almost stepped right on these skulls, but adjusted the landing last second
Go ahead, identify these two animals.  Sorry, no Misfits song reference this time...
River #2.  We have visual on Lake Huron.  It won't be long now...
Sweet Anchor, man
I knew that the lake was right next to me, but I kept running into a problem...

...every path to the beach was privately owned land
Then I finally found a beach I could visit at  Fort Gratiot County Park
(over 6 miles away from the hotel)
I watched a few ships cruise by
Proved I was there...
Walked the beach until it ended at more private property
(sign was down for some reason)
I found a petoskey stone!
I said "Goodbye Beach"
I started running back until I found an interesting statue that seemed to mirror the Mackinac Bridge workers memorial statue.  
 It was actually a memorial built for 22 men who lost their lives due to an accidental explosion while
building a tunnel  that now supplies 270 million gallons of water to Detroit's northern suburbs.

I was surprised when I researched it that this was only dedicated a few months ago in
December of 2011
Historical Landmark Marker
Time to run back to the hotel...

I just liked the "We Buy Guns" sign's font
Back in town
Back to the bike trail
Then it was back to the hotel to get ready.  My wife left early to go take photos and I realized I left my dress shoes in the Vibe.  She was in snapping shots of the bride until the ceremony started, so, for the ceremony at least, I was a total shoe failure...
Not a good look...
Probably not the best look for church, but at least I sort of had an Indiana Jones vibe going, at least in shadow form...
"You want to talk to God?  Let's go see him together.  I've got nothing better to do"

I did eventually get my dress shoes back, the wedding was wonderful, and a good time was had by all...

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