Saturday, July 28, 2012

The #1 threat to Michigan....BEARS!

As usual, the camping trip was relaxing.  There's nothing to do up there, so the only things to worry about are what to eat for dinner and where to swim.  It's much easier making two choices a day.  Other than that I just sat around reading books, and wondering what kind of birds were up in the trees (forgot my binocs and bird book again, dammit!).  

This year we had one adjustment, because we took Renfield with us.
He's a good camper
He was also pretty good in the car, and only stirred when he needed a rest stop.  A little barky at some of the camping hi-jinks, but he's only a puppy.  What can you expect?

As usual, it was beautiful up there, and the weather was incredibly cooperative until the day we left.
Love the Dunes
There were a lot of warnings at the campground about keeping food out.  There's been a lot of issues with bears and raccoons there.  We didn't see any bears, cougars, or anything scary.  We did hear and see the raccoons around our tent.  They did a lot of circling us and playing by our tent at night.  They did not get any food from us, but they did get some of Renfield's.

I even managed to get in a small race while I was up there.  They had a Running Bear 5K that I joined in on.
Okay, so maybe I did see ONE bear.
I didn't have the fastest time in the world, and I missed a raffle prize by one stinking number, but it was fun nonetheless.  I probably ran slower because I knew there wasn't a shower in my near future.  Yep, let's use that as an excuse.  Also, I didn't have to run fast to beat the bear, otherwise I would have been much more motivated.
Shirt Front

Shirt Back
Anyway, it was a great time, and I know this because my clothes are full of sand and Moosehead and Oberon bottle caps, and they also smell faintly of fire cooked meats.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Double-Crim and Title Defense

I know it's been a while.  I've been missing on canoe trip and many other things.  Long story short, rivers are really low, but we only were tipped by the 1000s of obstacles once, which made my wife and I very happy.  I lost my sunglasses for the 3rd year in a row.  High five for consistency.  Plenty of the homebrewed Oktoberfest was consumed, we got a bottle of the Sam Adams Infinium (which, though a commercial disaster, was pretty decent to me...though overpriced, no doubt), and there were numerous Oberon and Yuengling bottles lying around.  For the river trip (given glass is disallowed) we had Sierra Nevadas, Blue Moons, and Magic Hat #9.  Finding MH9 and Sierra in cans made me very happy.  Blue Moon, well, that was for my lady.  Lots of eating of brats, and much sadness for the loss of Ma's Girls Cafe, which is now closed somehow, even though the breakfast was awesome.  Not as awesome a trip with less people, lower water, and new owners at the campground, but we managed.  It might be time to change things up next year, though.

After the canoeing, we did our usual Tawas stop to see our favorite hippo.  Ignore my Hawaiian shirt and horrible Metallica Load shirt, I purposely dress awful for vacation.  It's my thing.  The townies make fun of the fudgey tourists so much that I feel the need to be an in-your-face stereotype of it.  The man to my right in this photo, who is from the North ensures me I'm doing a good job of that.  I can hear you thinking, "Yes, but you still bought that hideous Load shirt in the late 90s."  Stop it.

Wednesday J and I ran the 10 mile Crim route, back-to-back (and some change).

After Crim #1

After Crim #2
If 20+ miles weren't enough Wednesday, I chased it down with an 8K race earlier today (yesterday now, since it's 2am).  I had an age group title defense @ the Ophelia Bonner (don't say it too fast or it sounds dirty).  I was a little tired from the long run, so I was a whole 12 seconds slower than my 8k PR last year.  Cut me a break though, because I did defend my turf....against the only other 30-34 guy that bothered to show up and run the 8K.  Had he ran the 5K (or either of us, for that matter) it would have been an automatic 1st.  Where is everyone?  This race has everything (best Stefon voice)...trophies, pissy people from my neighborhood mad about traffic keeping them an extra 10 minutes when they're trying to get home, student volunteers from Flint Northern that cheer you on with really good enthusiasm, watermelon and bunches of grapes afterward, stinking up and sweating all over U of M property, and human parking cones.  I guess I can keep winning this thing the next 2 years if you guys don't want to show up.  All I'm saying is, that you just have to beat a chubby guy running a little over 9min miles to get the 1st in 30-34....

They even match
Anyway, just thought I'd stay up way too late and update.  I haven't even put mileage into daily mile either, so I don't want some sort of worry about my running and/or living status while I'm ignoring the existence of the internet for the next 7-10 days.  Chances are you won't hear from me again until I finish the 2012 sequel of Warrior Dash, and I'll probably even have a race somewhere "Up North," before then.

Toodley Doodley

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Volksläufe is German for Cooked Alive

I knew this July 4th was going to be a tough one.  Nevertheless, I had signed up for the 20K, and I was going to do it.  I had a few choices to make beforehand though, given the heat:

-Pancake Breakfast - Yes or No
-Hydration Backpack - Yes or No
-Start Conservative - Yes or No

I went yes, no, yes.  I should have been a full on yes man. 

I started really slow, and for once allowed myself to run my own race.  I figured the sun and heat moving closer and closer to the 90s and above would cause a lot of people to fall apart, and I could slowly cruise on by.
I love that pig
When I hit the 12K mark, I thought myself a genius.  I was poised to start eating everyone alive.  I felt really in charge and ready to bust the rest of the race out.  At that point, I had no fatigue whatsoever.  The only problem was, shortly after that, I realized, despite double-fisting every water stop I was getting that not so hydrated feeling.  I made up about a 2 minute deficit and caught J, but after the next water stop, I turned backwards and ran right back to it to get 2 more waters on top of the gatorade and 2 waters I had.  I knew I needed fluids, and was trying to help make sure I didn't lose everything because of it.  However, by that point, I think it was probably too late.

I have you now......or not
Shortly after, about everything shut down on me.  As usual, I refused to stop running, but that invincible feeling I had just minutes before was gone.  I felt desperate, thirsty, and, until about another two miles, there wasn't a whole lot I could do about it.  For the heat that it was, two miles was too far without water for me.  I was leaking so much human coolant that I probably would have needed about a gallon of water to not be physically hindered in this race.  J pulled back ahead, and stayed in sight, but I never caught him, even though he had slowed considerably as well.

From that point on, I hit literally every water hose and sprinkler the neighborhood spectators had to offer me, and I thank all of Frankenmuth for the water.  I'm not sure I could have made it without the cool downs.  Also, I have to fess up to drinking some of it.  I know people are paranoid of drinking sprinkler and hose water these days, but I'm a lot more paranoid of turning into a melting glob of Crisco on the pavement. 

With barely enough energy to even finish the thing, I still made my way over to the opposite side of the street to high five Sparty before heading in for the last 2.5K.  From there I really tried to kick it in just to finish strong several times, but I didn't have it.  The sun had had it's way with me, and the human waterfall was out of flow.  I came in at a deplorable 2:13 (6 minutes slower than last year).  Sad thing was, I was happy with it, because I was just happy to be done. 

Hello Sir!
We skipped the $4 beer booth, and just went up to the Frankenmuth Brewery for a beer and some food.  Wednesday is $5 growler refill day there, anyway.  So a cup of beer for $4, or a 1/2 gallon for $5 wasn't really a hard call to make, being I prepared and brought Mr. Gluggy with me.
He is now empty again, a victim of "drink before it gets warm"
during our recent power outage

Friday, July 6, 2012

Brent vs The June

1) Pick 12 things of social importance that I've had limited exposure to, but decided I didn't like and immerse myself in each of them for 1 month.

Listening to other runners talk about "Born to Run" so much and for so long really kind of made me avoid the book for a long time.  I figured I wasn't really built with crazy in my running genes, and if I was, I wouldn't want to let it out, even if a book could do so.  Let's face it, out of all the things that I do on this world, probably the last thing I'll be known or remembered for by others, or even just my family and friends is going to be my running.  It's something I do, but it's not really something anyone would ever use to define me. 

So needless to say, I wrote off the book and figured the fanaticism about it was all just some sort of mass hysteria to the same degree as strawberries with sugar virus.  I decided it wasn't for me before even reading the jacket of it.  Just the cover with a dude standing on a mountain is outside of my comfort zone, honestly.

Well I finally actually read it, and it's a great read.  Not picking up on the sense of inspiration some people are getting though.  I remember hearing someone I know say it inspired them to run their first marathon, but after reading it, I find that puzzling, because the folks followed in that book are not really pro marathon people and I think would find the current state of most marathons to be kind of for running "fudgies."  So next time I see them, I will talk running, and bait them into saying it again so I can take them to task.   

I could get how it could inspire people to be crazy, barefoot, loner trail running maniacs, but that's probably not going to have any chance of happening to me because being out in the wilderness and having people not know where I am is not my thing.  I'm already paranoid enough of something happening to me running by myself in populated area.  I like trails, but I want to be near phones and people in case something happens.  I find that I run less and less by myself and just wait for days when J is available to run with me.  I like my running, but I don't feel the need to risk myself for it.  I found myself, while reading "Born to Run," kind of thinking some of their risks were bordering on stupidity.  That's why I'll probably never have any books to write about my experiences, and I'm fine with that.  That's why there are different types of people in the world, because it needs a little crazy to shake things up.  Me, I'm good with being average Joe runner.

2) Learn 12 new recipes (1/month).

1 word...gnocchi.  I know it's cheesy just to add my already awesome pasta sauce to gnocchis, but it's a nice break from the rest of the dishes I make, and my wife and I have a very soft spot for gnocchi.  We also cheated a few times and used some Prego instead just to whip it up fast.  We haven't had a lot of spare time together for dinner lately.

3) Do 12 home improvements (1/month).

I know it barely counts, but my wife and I have wanted this chair for the corner of our room for nearly 3 years now.  When we moved in our home, with all the new home expenses that come with it, we just were not able to (responsibly) afford getting our oversized "cuddler" recliner.  So we didn't buy it, and we haven't seen anything of its likeness since.  During a trip to the same store where we initially saw it, while searching for a badminton set for our nephew, there it was.  We bought it on the spot, and picked it up the next day, and the "little chair" is now upstairs in front of the video game entertainment center.

We've also nearly finished modifying and beautifying the front door.  I know it sounds like we're taking our sweet lazy time, but we keep changing the scope of this one, and with the heat, finding a good day to paint was nearly impossible.  I've found some more door hardware to go on it that was hiding in the basement.  I'm sure it's the original material, at least me and my multiple hours of brasso scrubbing believe it is.  The knocker we bought over a year ago is finally on as well, which actually seems to fall right into place with the rest of it.  It is going to look awesome when it's finally done.  Even my mother, who hated the fact we were changing the color of our blue door, will probably come around as soon as she sees it. 

4) Try 12 new restaurants (1/month).

Here, as you saw after The Dalmatian, we tried the "Freakin' Unbelievable Burger" place, and it was okay.

In Pittsburgh we tried a place called The Porch, near the natural history museum.  All I can say was it had awesome quiche and I had morning beer (Full Pint Brewing's White Lightning and a Hopnobber).  It's always funny to ask underage servers fancy questions about beer.  She tried really hard to relay information about the brews from the guys in the back though, and she was nice and brought me jalapenos for my quiche just because I said it was the only thing that would make it better.  So maybe top 5 desination servers ever. 

We also tried the famous Primanti Bros., and well...meh

Tried some Iron City beer, took a trip to The Church brewery (sweet place, go if you're in the area), and brought a 24 pack on Yuengling home with us, which is disappearing much faster than is ideal, but oh well.  Next time we'll load up the trunk. 

Yuengling go home!...with me
June Extras
Running High - Dalmatian 5K PR

Running Low - Once again being the 2nd fiddle in the running group. J's been kicking my butt. I need to ramp up again and improve so I can make him ramp up and improve. I can't just let him keep winning the majority of the time, otherwise I'll be dropping my end of the bargain (being that the lower person pushes back up ahead to force the other to do likewise).

Mileage - 113 Miles. Same as May, but somehow it felt like I did more this month.  Maybe because we did more practice runs, and the official runs were all shorties.

The Legs - The definitely feel a lot better than May.  I think it's because I've stopped experimenting and have stuck with only shoes that seem to love me back (See previous post where I hug a shoe with my face)


Lights Out! - You'll notice there's not any photos of anything I could take photos of (now changed), on this post, and that's because we currently have no power (day 2).  I'm actually posting from work, because there is power here (dammit!).  I can't consider it a time theft though, after I spent several hours a couple nights ago finishing work at home.  Now we're even, job (okay, you're still ahead 3 1/2 hours).  It's very hot at home with no A/C, but other than the catastrophic loss of our ceremonial 4th of July Bomb Pops, we're just fine.  It's inconvenient, but a little candlelight, still having running water, and a nice LED book light can do wonders.

 It would be better if we weren't having a heat wave, but I realize there are so many people getting hit with much worse when it comes to the summer weather.  So, I really don't have anything to complain about.  You actually don't realize what quiet is until those constantly running appliances aren't going anymore.  Also, it's nice to actually see children forced to play outside.  The neighborhood seems much more vibrant now that we're all disconnected.  It makes you wonder if, in fact, this is where "community" disappeared to...

Beer Man - The Oktoberfest is done.  I have to say, for a first batch, I'm awfully happy with myself.  I've had good reviews so far, and they seem to taste even better as they sit longer (I'm sure we taste tested a bit prematurely).  I even received one review of very high praise, where it was stated that mine was the 2nd best Oktoberfest ever.  I'll take it!  I'm glad everything worked, especially since I made mods to the kit's instructions to cater to my specific tastes (which also seem to have had the desired results).  Modifying's probably not the best move for a first-timer, but I had my vision for what I wanted and I went for it.  In the end, I'm just happy it's drinkable and resembles a beer.  The residue in the bottles was very well minimized for not filtering, the carbonation's good, the taste from bottle to bottle is very uniform, and the clarity and color are unbelievably perfect.  I'm also happy to share the experience with friends, especially with a friend who recently moved to Texas and was in town for his sister's wedding last weekend.  I was trying to figure out how to ship him a few so he wouldn't be left out, but not I don't have to.

I'm considering labeling and naming it (it has a's name is Robert Paulso-ktoberfest?...nah...), but I was thinking maybe that's a little too vain (I bet I think this beer is about me...).  If so I better hurry before they're all empties again.  Although I'm not entirely sure I want to spend hours at a sink getting labels off 45-50 bottles again.  It might be easier to just sanitize and reuse these for batch #2.  I don't know,  what do you think?

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