Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Detroit Again/Re-Shrinkage/Flushing

With the price jump kicking in on the 25th, I jumped right in on Detroit Marathon #2.  Sure, I don't care for the medal, and I've already ran it once, but also: it's a marathon, it's relatively close, it's somewhat home turf, I'll know what I'm getting into more, and I already know I'm capable (or at least I was last year).  Also, even if I end up unemployed by then and can't pay for anything, I'm sure someone can get me to Detroit, right?  I already have the enhanced license and everything else.  So at this point, it was just the fee to get in.

Now that that's happening I need to make up some ground.  Last March I only put in 68 miles, and so far this month, I'm only at 47.  Part of it is weather, and the rest is a mix of work keeping me later and having to walk the dog, which pushes the dark upon my runs early.  Sorry, but some of the areas I run in are not places you want to run in when it's dark (or daylight for that matter).  Just the uneven sidewalk alone could end your running year, never mind some of the safety of life issues in some of our not-so-pleasant areas of Flint.

I've also said "enough is enough" and I'm dropping weight.  I popped up a bit after the marathon (and while approaching the marathon before that), and I was hoping all the things I dropped out of for Lent would shrink me back.  It didn't.  Apparently I can keep on the path to amorphous blobitude without soda, beer, meat, fast food, or pizza.  Though I did cheat on the meat last Sunday.  I'm sorry, but I'm not showing up to my wife's grandparent's house for dinner with a jar of veggie-approved Ragu sauce to replace her grandpa's homemade meat sauce.  That pushes too far beyond my rudeness capabilities.

Anyway, I've had to create a time cut-off for food at night, and started limiting my lunch.  I know I'm more of a big lunch guy, but that doesn't work when your wife is a dinner person.  Sure, on my own, I could pretty much shut down the eating before dinner, but I'm not going to get away with it, so I've given in to her small lunch, big dinner ways.  It's working.  I have 4 pounds to drop to get back to "Marathon Brent."  Of course this course is set to collide with Easter (though I have only had one cadbury egg to date and not a single delightful reese's egg-shapped delight) and the future availability of 5 gallons of homemade beer.  I don't know, I have two weddings I'm in this year, and pictures are forever, so I'll just have to pretend I care as much about those pictures as I did my own (yeah, I know that plan sounds stupid).

Other than that, I've the Martian Half Marathon coming up here on April 13th.  I have no idea about my readiness.  I haven't gone that distance in a long while.  There's almost no chance of a PR, but plenty of opportunity for a PU (personal underachievement?).  I'm considering signing up for a practice run at the more local Flushing Half-Marathon this weekend.  If I opt out of a shirt, we're only looking at $15, but I don't know if I'll be available that morning.  It would be nice to see where I'm at and see if it spurs me on a bit, but it's only 2 weeks notice of where I'm at before the Martian, anyway.  I'm not sure it would make a difference.  If I'm able, though, I think I'll set the alarm and go.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Detroit Marathon Medal 2013

The Detroit Marathon has officially released its medal for the year, with the featured car being a 2013 Camaro, instead of the usual rotation of classic cars.  If you happen to follow the Detroit Marathon on facebook, it seems to me that this decision is currently not going over too well.  Most of the comments have been overwhelmingly negative.  I think a good number of people, myself included, believe this to be more of a tacky advertisment than anything.  I've also seen a few comments that seem beyond reason, asking if they can defer their entry to next year over this, or are threatening to not bother registering.  

2013 Detroit Marathon Medal

Personally, I think that's taking things a little too far, but what do you guys think?  I'd like to hear some feedback.  It seems like messing with people's medals is about as risky of an endeavor as scorning a woman, poking a bear or a hornets next, or signing the Brian Jonestown Massacre to your record label.

For me it might be a little less motivation or excitement at the finish, but I can't see it pushing me off of doing it completely.  Though if I were on the fence between Detroit and Chicago, like some people in this midwest region may be, I could see it bumping me to Chicago.  I don't know, I'm not sure it would even matter, as we all know the Marathon is going to sell out anyway.  If you have fat people like me running them now, then pretty much everyone is a candidate for signing up.

Monday, March 18, 2013

St. Patrick of Bay City Part 4

Don't worry everyone (me), I didn't bonk on the 5K and come in at 30+, as much as I worried about it.  In the end it wasn't even as close as I thought it was when I finished (clock time was 29:30s).  I ended up sneaking in with a 28:32.  Not tearing it up by any means, but not right on the border of my feared backtracking over the 30 border.

I ran solo this year, due to my buddy's work conflicts, but my lady went with me, even though she had very little interest in being out in the 20 degree weather.  I also dropped out of going to Corktown with my friends instead, and chose to do the race, since it was a 40th anniversary race and it was actually on the holiday.  So I was hoping it would be a pretty big deal.  In the end it was kind of same ol' same ol'.

Now, despite having a good chunk of Irish heritage going on, and being Catholic, I have pretty much had a lifelong dislike of Notre Dame (besides they were founded by the French and don't even know where this whole "Fighting Irish" thing even came from anyway).  I even had a shirt in my college days that said "I'm Irish, I'm Catholic, I still hate Notre Dame" that I wish I hadn't lost somewhere.  Anyway, never being one to pass up the chance at taking the piss out of them a little bit, I made a little modification to my new Manti Te'o shirt.

The shirt was a hit
Of course all I probably accomplished, karma-wise, was to bring his sideshow to the Detroit Lions.  Oh well, They haven't won anything since my mom was 4.  It's not like their ineptitude has any effect on me at this point.  Also, the NFL kind of sucks.  I'm starting to realize most sports do.  I had to turn off MSU/Iowa this weekend just because the overabundance of commercial breaks was KILLING me.  Say what you will about soccer being boring, at least it's not interrupted every 2 minutes of clock time.
Me waving to my lady at the final stretch
After the race, and finally getting a Powerade at the end this year for once, it was time to go get some food.  We attempted to avoid the crowd and went to Grandpa Tony's just a few miles south of downtown.  It was nothing to crow about.  Then we attempted to swing back north around the parade and go to Tri-City Brewing, but it was closed (it's only open Wed-Sat apparently).  So we decided just to find somewhere to get a St. Patty's brew, and settled on the Stein Haus, even though it was completely the wrong nationality (except for some common mild underlying disdain of the English).  All things considered, we should have went here for food too.  It was a pretty awesome environment.  Not a bad beer selection either.  Anywhere that carries Dragonmead is good in my book.

Me with my beer and my dry Tossers shirt.
If you're not familiar with The Tossers, they
are a great Irish-style band from Chicago, perfect for St. Pat's listening.
  I consider them to be today's rightful
heirs to the throne formerly held by The Pogues.

Steins are even on the ceiling...

This year's shirt and 4 Medals (2010-2013)

The best shirts were still 2010 & 2011 (IMO)
Another St. Patty's Day in the books.  A very mild one, but a good one with my lady.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

It's been how long....?

Today I realized that I have not run a 5K since 6/20/12.  I didn't believe that was possible until I checked the official record, and yep, it's been that long.  At some point, I must have been so focused on the marathon that I didn't think a 5K was worth my time.

The problem with this is, that's where I probably build up most of my speed (if you can call it that).  Combine that with the lack of races and training these last few months, and I'm in trouble.  On St. Patrick's Day, I'll be running Al Kayner #4 (Bay City), on its 40th anniversary.  The usual 8K has been eliminated for some reason, and there's only the 5K.  Honest truth?  I know nobody else is going to know or care, but, for me it would be a huge personal embarrassment to come in at something over 30 minutes.  It scares me enough that I'm making a late push this week.
New Medal (not the same old one)
Today, I put it all on the line and went as hard as I could for a little over a 5K.  Even then, I'm straddling that 30 minute mark.  That being said, it's gone a lot worse every time before that lately (we're talking 11/12 min/mile).  I ran about 9:44 pace, and could not catch my breath in the driveway for almost a minute (and what felt like an eternity).  Some more of this coming tomorrow.  Let's see if I can do a little better.

So what else has been up with me?

I went to 97.1 Sportsfest, and completely missed out on meeting any of the players/sports personalitiies I wanted to see.  However, I did get my picture taken with Sara Jean Underwood.  That holds a lot more weight in my nerd circles, so, still, great success!  I think some of the sports dudes just weren't keen on a dude in a Boba Fett hoodie and an ABBA shirt...my bad.  Besides, my romance with sports of all kinds is really starting to die.

I did double duty concerts seeing K. Flay one night and In Flames the next.  Not very often do you chase a hip-hop show with a metal show, but it worked for me.

No luck on the job front yet.  I've been getting the resumes out for the things that apply (pretty much anything  chem. lab or environmental/waste management-related).  I even seriously debated applying to a zookeeper job in Battle Creek (1 hr 30 mins away from me), just because that's what my initial degree was in (Zoology).  The pay was a big step back, but the work sounded awesome.  No guarantees I even could have gotten it, anyway, but doing that would pretty much make us have to move, and just the gas for the time-being from here (not to mention the time wasted) would have been murder.

For now, to keep positive and make me not dwell on things, I've given myself a few self-improvement projects to keep my mind off things.  First off, I'm trying to become more computer literate.  Now, I'd say I'm above average, and I'm good with most things, but I've never really delved into the computer language/programming side of things.  I've always kind of thought HTML and coding were way above my head, and some of it is right now, but I figure it can't be that impossible.  So I've been setting aside a little time every week to learn a little more about that.  At the very least, I can help my wife with her photography website, and she won't have to find a techie every time there's a big problem.  So far, it makes sense.

Next, I've decided to go pro in my music geekdom.  In most of my social circles, I'm the guy who knows his music, can name the band, song, whatever.  I'm also usually the one that's turning people on to new stuff they like.  However, when it comes to actual musical notation, structure, etc. I'm completely illiterate.  I used to play guitar a little and could read tabs, but that's not really music.  Even that kind of got abandoned, because,  basically it was kind of my thing to do when I was down, or whatever.  Well, that doesn't happen anymore.  Even when I'm semi-sad, I have a wife that makes things better.  If she's not around, the cat or the dog do something silly, and that cures it.  It's hard to be depressed around here for any considerable length of time.  Anyway, I'm going to try to actually go back and learn it the right way, with scales and all that garbage.  It might be fun eventually.  Even if it's not, it might just be nice to have some technical expertise in the subject when discussing with my sister why I feel I've failed her as a big brother in teaching her about what bands are awesome (I only hope there's still time).

Lastly, I've decided that, if I'm going to keep up with this homebrewing beer thing, I'm going to try to actually learn what I'm doing.  I bought John Palmer's "How to Brew," and did some good reading of that.  My friend is really far into the learning curve, and makes some of the best stuff I've ever had, and he said that book is the quintessential cornerstone of learning to do things right.  The goal was to brew my first non-kit batch, selecting all my ingredients on my own.  I wanted to figure out how to construct something on the border of a pale and an IPA with a lot of Bell's Two-Hearted characteristics, while knowing what my alcohol % was, what ingredients I was using and why, what steps to take and the whys and whens of that, and get some idea how to start constructing my own beers around me, my wife, my running buddy, and my other friends' consumption needs.

Well, Sunday, just before and partially during The Walking Dead, after gathering up my ingredients, I went ahead and started the process of making the wort and getting it into the fermenter.  I went with a mix of pale malt extract and amber dry malt for the body and then hopped it initially with some Northern Brewer (which I just loved the smell of) Hops, finishing with the classic Cascade Hop (17.9 AAU between the two).  It looks and smells (from what's coming off the air lock) like it's exactly what I was going for.  If it turns out (and it should, I put way more into this than the Oktoberfest, which was also awesome).  I'm going to be ecstatic.  If you're good at this and know it won't, don't tell me now, I will cut you.  Honestly, though, I just won't believe you.  I've seen way too many "Is my beer ruined?" threads on Homebrewtalk.com where people did incredibly bad things and everyone says "Nope, it'll be fine."  Apparently you have to try pretty hard to ruin beer.  Who knew?
Fermenting (usually that blanket is over it to keep out the light)
It should be ready just after Easter, when Lent is over, and I can drink alcohol again (also gave up soda, meat, fast food, and pizza...yet haven't lost a pound...which is remarkable...however I will give myself a St. Patty's Day break).  For now it's just nice to be involved in beer culture.  I just kind of love it.  Maybe I was a bootlegger in a past life (maybe that's also why I love Doop & The Inside Outlaws "Everett Belcher" album so much).  Who knows?  I also have a Moylan's Hopsickle ready to go for my Easter basket (yes, I've planned that far ahead), and am looking forward to the day when I can use Untappd  (friend me!) again.  I'll let you know how I do up at the Al Kayner, and where my drinking shoes took me after.
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