Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Personal Training

Heather and I are both certified Personal Trainers. She has a four year degree attached to her ACSM cert and I have years of teaching attached to my AFAA cert. So we get some newsletters from both of these agencies. They offer continuing education opportunities, fitness concepts, etc.

I recently read an article in one of them about finding what kind of Client suits you best as a Trainer. I won't go into too much detail, but it involved the psychological aspect of the Client/Trainer relationship. From a Trainer point of view, it was pretty good information.

So I'm going to kind of flip that into what kind of Trainer suits you as a potential Client. Because, and I'm just assuming here, you want a Trainer.

So here's what I think you should look for in a Trainer, in no specific order because everything is relative:

1) Education!! Does your perspective trainer have a degree or a weekend certification? Is it nationally recognized or just a fly by night? Is your trainer just lucky enough to have good genetics so they look like they know what they're talking about? Can they pronounce Coccyx? Doesn't that look Russian? Well, it isn't, it's your butt-bone.

Lateral view of the bone in your ass.

Frontal view of a Slavic Bad Ass.



2) Experience. Has your trainer been around? If you have specific goals or want to train for a specific sport, does your trainer understand the specifics? Most trainers will have some good idea of how to mimic specific movements for training purposes, but finding a trainer that has actively participated in your sport may be huge benefit, on both a sympathetic and a practical aspect.

3) Experience Again. Just how long has your trainer been doing this? Weigh this against the previous options above. For instance, a trainer that has been doing this forever will know all the tried and true methods, but may be in the dark or possibly even be unwilling to try new concepts. Whereas a trainer fresh out of school will have all the up to date information, but may not know how to effectively convey and utilize it. Is your money going towards their education or their experience, and which is worth more to you?

4) Attitude. Do you see your trainer respecting the facility and members both on the clock and on the floor? Do you see your perspective trainer working out and leaving weights around, clogging equipment with supersets, etc? You need to determine if you want a trainer that's there just to get the job done, or one that goes the extra distances to make sure every member is getting the most for their time.

5) Methodology and Technique.  And you know what? Safety goes right in here too. In order to progress you have to push, but to what to degree? Does your trainer leave clients in a puddle of sweat, bent over and holding their knees? Does your trainer push clients into moving so much weight that their form goes to shit? You have to decide if you want to push like that and determine what the risks are. (Your trainer should be willing to explain any risks.)

6) Integrity. Is your trainer pushing you to take Protein, Creatine, BCAA's, Test Boosters, Beta Alanine, Pre-Workout's or any of that shit? Do you know what that stuff does? Hell, does your trainer? Do your research on any and all supplements to determine if you really do need them. Nobody should pushing you to take anything without your full consent and acknowledgement of what/why it is needed. On the other hand, some people feel supplementation gives them the extra edge. You need to decide.


What is this? What exactly does it do?

 


(On a side note, at some gyms the Trainers unfortunately are told to try to sell you all that, their paycheck may depend on it. So communicate with your trainer.)






7) Money. Can you afford to have trainer? Can you afford NOT to have trainer? Is your money better spent on Beach Body or P90X home videos?

Well look, if you find a trainer that meets any of your expectations on items One through Six, you'd be silly not to at least try a few sessions. An honest trainer won't promise you ludicrously grandiose results.
But having both the accountability and direction of a good trainer is worth more than the nasty gas inducing shakes you'll have in your cupboard for years, it's worth more than that nifty Insanity coffee table book, it's worth more than all those home workout DVD's you have taking up space.
 

Metaphorical on a couple of different levels.


If you'd spend time shopping around for a car, apartment, bicycle, or even a good place to eat, then take some time determining what kind of trainer you wantDo a handful of sessions with them.  And if you end up not liking them, trade them out. Find the trainer that is compatible with you.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Product Review: This lighter I found in the parking lot

I found a lighter in the parking lot at 42nd Ave Beach Access.
 

Its not everyday I find something as useful as a lighter. We have several uses for lighters around the house, and spending money on a lighter just seems so wasteful when you're eating frozen pizza 3 nights a week. So let me tell you how stoked I am that I found this.

It's a Bic!





This lighter is going to allow me to light the candle in the bathroom. Between my awful diet and the 2 cat boxes in there, we really need a candle.







I can also use the lighter to light my pineapple on fire.









Lighters make a fantastic cat toy.









Sometimes I have blisters between my toes from running. The lighter doesn't really help actually.





Comparing this to another lighter I found kicking around, it appears this is actually Bic's bigger lighter.


I've no idea how long I've had the little green lighter. Let alone where it came from.

 
So far the flame has held out nice and steady.
There is no flame adjustment on this one.
I haven't yet burned my fingers on it.
It readily ignites whatever I put in front of it, within reason of course.

Stupid Bloody Mary Mix.

 
 
Although I really enjoy this lighter, I've been thinking of giving it to Heathers kids for Christmas. Little kids love setting shit on fire. And I feel this is a good entry level ignition system for them.

I'm also giving them this little ball of cat fur with Googely Eyes. This should catch on fire eventually.

Kids love cat hair.



There may come a time in the future when I have to purchase a lighter, and if I can find this one for 99cents. I'm going to buy it.

 



Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Race Review: One Epic Run 24hr

I've been procrastinating the hell out of this review.
A) I don't have a ton of pictures
B) I'm at a loss for words

So you can see my dilemma in writing this, yes?

Well, shit. I'll just type whatever my chubby little fingers feel and we'll see what happens here...

Heather and I signed up for the One Epic Run wayyy back, sometime this past summer. It was scheduled to be our 2nd Ultra attempt together. We snuck Paris Mountain in though, so Epic instead was our 3rd Ultra together.
We had attended Infinitus, a 48hr race put on by the Endurance Society, back in late May '15.
We like doing dumb shit like this together, which is nice.

Ya, this is going to be all over the place. Maybe listen to Steely Dan while reading this.

Spartanburg, South Carolina. It's just outside Greenville SC, where we were 2 weekends ago. (For people with no goddamn money, we get around.) It really felt like Brookfield MA where I went to elementary school. There were cow fields, lumberjacks, farmers, and all of that stuff you don't get in Myrtle. It was pretty great.

The race is at Croft State Park. So we got to camp again! I love camping!!! This weekend it was really kind of cold though, in fact there was frost on my Camelbak in the morning. I hate cold. But whatever, it's all part of the experience. (Remember that.)

We, and I'm referring to the entire Race here, had a whole wing of the park to ourselves. This was a fantastic difference from camping at Paris, where we were surrounded by civilians that didn't have to race the next day.
Everyone within yelling distance, throwing distance or whatever, was running the next morning. So everyone was quite by 8pm. Nice.
We shared our particular tent site with 3 other tents. A cool dude from Upstate New York, Nick was solo in his tent, then some couple that I only saw when they were leaving was in a tent, and our running buddy Michael and crew Toni where in the last tent.
Camping was included in the rego.

I'm cold, but I still like camping


A 9am race start was soooo nice for this. I mentioned it was cold ya? But when you can sleep in a cozy sleeping bag with a cozy girlfriend until 7am...so much better than getting up in the dark just to freeze your balls off for a 7am start. So I ended up kicking around in pajamas until the last minute.
God I love this shit.

We took care of rego around 7:30 and got this killer hoody, again included in the rego.

Skulls seem common in the Ultra world.



The race director gave us the briefest of race briefs. Someone held a flag and somebody else played another awful version of our National Anthem over their IPhone.
Ya know, I'm just going to say it, I hate our Anthem. NOBODY seems to want to do it properly anymore, so let's nick it and start over with an Instrumental. Or just use American Sign Language.

After fuming quietly in my head about that I went back to the tents to finalize putting on my running gear and made it back to the start just as the horn was going off. Horn, whistle...whatever it was. Some sound. It doesn't really matter does it?

There were a good chunk of people doing this race! I don't know exactly how many, but enough to cause the inevitable bottle necks at the start. But again, who cares? Unless you're the front running bastards, you're not going to win, so you just deal with the bottle necks as best you can. 

Another great course for us to run. A reasonably gentle decent brings you to the bridge, which then brings you to the first small climb. This isn't any kind of sustained climb such as Paris, but it's enough to make you hope those squats are going to pay off.
The singletrack flattens out a bit then climbs a bit more and runs you behind a very active firing range. I think they were firing a Pak 38.

Pak 38. Keeping us motivated through the day


If you survived the anti-tank gun, as most of us did, the trail shoots downhill right after the range. The first few laps this was a bit dodgy as it was covered with leaves, but after 12hrs it was fine.
At the bottom of this decent-Hey! A water crossing. Thank god there's some kind of bridge across it. I really didn't want to get trench foot with it being so cold out. 
Another climb follows this water crossing, this climb is a bit more challenging, nothing we'd want trekking poles for, but it does top us off for another wonderful decent. Such a great decent, until 8pm when I couldn't feel my feet anymore.
The bottom basically spits out at the river we bridged in the beginning and the trail roughly follows said river, nice and flat through here.
We run few little ravines here and there and two more minor water crossings before we cross the bridge again and start our climb out.
The course is a 5k lollipop. At the far end of the lollipop is the Start/Finish, Check In and Aid Station.

Heather and I had determined well ahead of time that we were going designate landmarks to walk at, and well hot diggity, the trail was already set up for us. The terrain was ideal for how we'd wanted to approach this event. Just enough climbing to make you walk and enough descents to make up some time.

Heather had made up some fancy chart weeks prior that had all of our lap times on it. Basically we had to do the loop in just under 45min. Piece of cake...for the first 7 laps or so. After 21+miles we were bound to slow down, and we did. We had banked over 60min in the first 4 laps, but that was quickly cashed and spent by mid-afternoon. Lesson here: We're not Elites so maybe we should look into banking Energy instead of Time? I'm going to talk with her about that.

We had originally gone into this hoping for 100m. Ya...that's lofty. Out on trail we decided maybe we'd try 100k...Nope.
We fell apart at about mile 55 or so. So much to learn, so much.

But regardless of that, this race was as awesome as Paris, but more epic. (Haha, get it? It's called One Epic Run.)
The RD was super friendly and helpful, as were all the volunteers.
The Food. Holy crap, the food. I ate better at that race then I'll eat the rest of the week. They had any/everything you could want. Pizza, Soup, Veggie Burgers, Candy, Taters, it goes on and on.
And I loved the 5k loop. I ran with a damn hand held and just filled it up whenever I checked in.
The rego was 65 bucks. That's it. It included a campsite for 2 nights, a hoody, the race, the food and a buckle (if you got 100m). How can you beat that? You can't.

After race coffee, I love coffee.



Ok then, there's the review on the race. It was awesome and we need to move to Greenville asap.

Below is some mindless rambling about my experience.

One of the reasons I love trail running/racing is the people. 
Way back when at some Killington Beast we'd met a dude from NC, Todd. And surer than shit, he was there this weekend, hell he even hung out with us for a lap. That crazy sumbitch had just earned a 100m buckle a few weeks prior.
Months before we'd even moved to Myrtle Beach we'd become Facebook friends with a coach in the Umstead area, Gene. You know that guy was here with a crew. We got to talk with him a chunk pre-race, great energy from Gene.
Two weeks ago we'd met another race director, Matt. And here he was volunteering at somebody else's race. When Heather and I were dogging it at TA, he offered tons of friendly encouragement.
The dude in our camp site was from upstate New York. I think we convinced him to do Infinitus 2016.


What I learned the hard way:

1) I need to race smarter, not harder. And that will come with practice and patience. I can still try to train harder, but when your shooting for 24hr, you MUST know what you're capable of. Practice and Patience.

2) Communicate effectively with your race partner, especially if she's as cute as mine. Mis-communication had me changing out my shoes before Heather was ready to change into running tights. Confusion at a Transition Area will kill your time.

3) Keep stops/stopping time to a minimum, see above. Any stop is time not moving. If you need to use the throne at the TA, try to have your partner take care of some business at the same time. They can change shoes, clothes or whatever. You can also pass them your water bottle to fill while you're squeezing your gut. Share as many responsibilities as possible to get out of TA fast.

4) Have a partner! Holy shit I cannot imagine doing this without Heather. Ya, maybe that's just me being squishy, but have someone to be accountable to.

5) Grab and Go. If you're eating from the aid station, grab a handful of whatever you want and start moving. Get out of TA.

I'm sure I could elaborate on those points. But I'm not going to bother. I'm no Ultra Pro, those are just newbie observations but maybe they'll help someone, somewhere, sometime.


I kind of pulled this blog out of my magic arse on Wed 12/9/15. I am able to walk effectively now, in fact I did legs at the gym today. But Sunday and Monday were pretty rough. My GI track is all good now. And I'm really looking forward to our next thing.

Thanks, bye.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Race Review: Paris Mountain 50k

Paris Mountain is a beautiful state park in Greenville SC. There's a nice little pond with paddle boats and some pretty serious mountain biking. There's an RV campground and some really nice hiking trails. There is also a pretty cool 50k. The Paris Mountain Ultra in fact. Bet you already figured that out.

Greenville is about a four hour drive west from Myrtle Beach. It's a pretty damn dull drive too. It's flat for hours, you drive by little more than swamp and Carolina type forest until you get to the outskirts of Colombia. Then you get some hills, some industry, traffic and such. But it's worth the drive.

Before moving to Myrtle we had wanted (and still want) to move to Greenville. Although we're going to make the best of Myrtle, we belong closer to the mountains and the woods. Greenville is good size city, maybe comparable to Worcester MA if I had to guess, but it sits right in some foothills that beckon you to run and ride.

So when an opportunistic contest came up to do an Ultra there, I jumped on it. And won. For a 50% rego you had to get the most "likes" on a Facebook thread. And I of course posted something about Heather's butt.

This photo was actually taken at FoamFest not Paris Mountain.



Godamn it's freezing in here. 

The Paris Mountain Ultra is put on through Upstate Ultras and Without Limits. A 10k, 13.1, 50k, 50m Relay and a 10hr Ruck were available at this particular event. We didn't drive four hours for a mini and a 10hr ruck doesn't sound like good ultra training, we're doing the 50k.


We were lucky enough to get a camp site Friday and Saturday night for this shindig. I didn't see any Porcupines, but I did hear Trains.

I LOVE CAMPING!!


Imagine a 4hr drive for a race that starts at 6:45am? Shit, that would suck so bad. We left Myrtle around 11 or so on Friday and just enjoyed a road trip. Thank Christ there's Dunkin's along the way.

Packet Pickup! It's at Fleet Feet in Greenville. Makes sense, right? Pickup was a doddle. The folks there were wicked friendly and packet pickup included your bib, a quality T and some throw away gloves, plus event decals. Gotta keep the Spartan Mobile decorated.

Photo blatantly stolen from Relentless Forward Commotion. It is my T shirt though.


Off to the campground we go. It's about 3:30 now, and we want beer. Wouldn't you? Of course you would. We stop into a Kangaroo or 7/11 or whatever and get a 12'r of Yuengling. Don't judge. It's not my first choice, but the only decent beer we could find at this time. (I'm not going to post a pic of Yuengling)

The campground at Paris Mt is set up for RVs. We're currently tent people. I feel there's a complicated relationship between RV and Tent people. (Ya know, kinda like roadies and mountain bikers, or skiers and snowboarders.) I dig you have a RV with heat and water and shit, but you need to understand that I'm in a fucking tent. That means I can hear your damn diesel engine running at 11pm, your lights are illuminating my tent like a Burning Man prop and your little screaming little kids are making me think of other uses for this camp fire. 
But on a better note, the Park Ranger was great, the Camp Host was very friendly and the showers....the best Solo shower I've ever taken. So it was absolutely worth it to camp.

Race day morning was chilly. 40 degrees or so. Not bone crunching cold, but enough to make me wonder why I got out of my burly ass sleeping bag. We drove down to the start about 5:15 and sat in the car until 6:30, when nature finally called and we headed down to the start area.

Lots of people milling about the start. And anyone who's ever done an early morning race knows, there's always a line for the shitter. And there was a line for the shitter...when I finally got to sit down I actually had to yell " Eighty Six ass paper" to the other guys in line so they knew the stall was bingo toilet paper. Some incredible person handed me a roll over the top. Faith in humanity temporarily reinstated.

As dawn approaches we have the normal pre-race meeting. Unfortunately, the music was louder than the race director's megaphone, so I wasn't able to hear squat. But what I did hear sounded like normal pre-race info, directions, safety,etc.

At 6:45 every body lines up. 10k folks go out first. They're running the designated 10k loop only. Ten seconds later the Half runners go out. They're running the 13.1m loop. Ten seconds later the 50m Relay teams start on their 13.1m loop. Ten seconds after this the Rucks go out, I think maybe ten or twelve rucks, for their 13.1m loop. And last out of the gate are the 50k runners.

Photo courtesy John Lewis Photography. Heather and I sporting our Yeti colors.



I won't lie...this is a little bit of clusterfuck now. It's not a huge race with thousands of competitors, but the 10sec wave differential wasn't really enough to thin out the herd before we really got on the nitty-gritty of the course. And when the herd got to the first intersection...we all followed said herd and went the wrong way. Not even 1/2 mile in.

Course markings are such an integral part of a race experience. Especially on something of a 50k magnitude when you're out in the middle of nowhere. We were beset by a few imaginative course markings throughout our race. We ran into quite a few runners who either missed a turn or couldn't understand what the signage meant and got lost. 
In defense of the RD, there was a mountain bike race scheduled for the next day, and some of their markings were up, some of which coincided with our run, some which did not.
I'm also thinking the logistics of marking a course on State Park property are quite challenging. I doubt the RD had the liberty to hang ribbon as frequently due to park regulations.
All that being said though, for a better racing experience the course markings do need some revision for next year. A verbal explanation of the trail is nice, but if you've never run in an area before and you're 25 miles in....you want solid trail marks.

The course itself was perfect. Honest. It was everything I wanted/needed/hoped. Damn I love trail running. I won't try to regale you with the route, but will tell you the climbs were challenging enough to wake up your legs, but not Seven Sisters hell. 
The terrain kept me on my game, but was rarely dangerous. There were a few sections with some nasty ass roots, the like I've only seen here. 
There were a few water crossings. Although these created some bottle necks in the beginning, I was able to keep my feet dry.
There were also some sections of running down smooth mountain bike trails. Sooooo nice. Man, I hope I remember to add the pictures.

Shit! It's blurry.


Feels like New England.


With our first 13.1 mile loop finished we headed back to the Start Line to check in and start our next loop. Originally our emails had stated that our second loop would be the first loop going the other direction, well...at this point there are 50k'rs out here, lost. And there's also the 50m relay teams out here, AND the 13.1m and 10k loops shared parts of the trail. There's just people out here running. Nobody is really quite sure if they're heading the right direction because there's arrows going different directions, it's pretty chaotic. The aid station volunteers are very friendly, but they don't really know whats going on with the course.

Whoa now.  Should have been a Song Check or something. Tilt your head to the left.


Well, we make it safely to check in. Heather's GPS is showing just over 12m. That's cool, we're at least on track for mileage even if we did stray from course a bit. The crowd at check-in is very supportive, we hit up one of the three aid stations on course before we venture back out for loop two.

Loop Two seems to go okay. Heather has a really good head for this kind of thing and was able to put her touch on navigating the ambiguous signage. We ended up back on course going the opposite direction, as specified by our pre-race emails, but possibly countered by our pre-race meeting that was unfortunately drowned out by the morning DJ. 
Hey, no major harm done. We'll still hit our mileage and the aid stations. Good to go.

Ya know, I'm not gonna bore you with what I ate on trail or how much water I drank or what kind of lube I used on my toes. But I will tell you this. Pack toilet paper. Then, double to check that you did indeed pack that toilet paper. Ultra running is already smelly and gross enough without having to wipe with a handful of leaves. 
 




 Pack toilet paper.

 



Alright enough about my doody adventure. Let's jump into our 10k loop. The GPS is reading 25m or so before we start, so we are definitely going to hit our 31m. As mentioned earlier the 10k loop shared some terrain with the 13.1m. It's shares a climb, some water crossings, etc, but most importantly it shared some gentle descending. We were able to run a good chunk of it. That's a pretty big morale boost when you can't feel your feet.

Coming into the finish line of an event like this is a pretty great feeling. The RD is there cheering, there's a chunk of spectators cheering, it's great. It's not like the crowds you get finishing up a sub 4 road marathon, but you don't even want that. I'm not trying to bash the Road scene, but Trail running/racing has a different vibe. I wish I had a good analogy for it. 

We actually have the legs to run up the hill to the finish. Crossing with 31 plus miles. I'm starving at this point, I must have burned at least 3000kcal. And you know what's good to eat after a 50k? Pizza. And there was lot's of pizza at the line. Papa Murpy's I think. Unfortunately, there was nothing to drink in sight, so I liberated a Gatorade from the Merrel crew before all the little rat bastard kids running around took them all. Thank you Merrel, even if I don't win the raffle, that Gatorade was a god-send. 

I've had a couple of days to think about this race. And there's a few pros and cons on this event. I'll start my summary with the cons because I had a great time and want to finish on the positive. 
In no particular order:

Con #1. Trail Markings. The RD has already come forward to say that will be addressed next year. 
Con #2. No fruit at the Aid Stations. The Aid Stations had plenty of good carby/salty ultra food, but not a sign of a banana or orange.
Con #3. All the fun shit was gone at the finish line. The promised catered food, the photo booth, etc. All gone. This is not a huge deal breaker in and of itself, as I was there to run. But when you have to scrape every cent to rego for a race, you get particular about what race to do and you choose the race that offers the most value for that dime you pulled out of the couch.

Pro #1. The Course. Like I said, for me it was perfect.
Pro #2. The Aid Stations. No fruit, but whatever, I should have been prepared with my own fruit. But everything else at the Aid Stations was great. Lots of food, hell, they even had PowerGel.
Pro #3. Camping. This is a HUGE factor for Heather and me. Getting up at 2am to make a 7am race isn't a good idea, and jumping right into a car after a 50k is also not fun. Camping.
Pro #4. Greenville. 
Pro #5. The Race Director. That guy made all the tiles and the kickass Ruck awards by himself. That's not just cool, it's badass.

Photo courtesy John Lewis Photography.


This was only my third Ultra, The Silver State 50/50 and Infinitus being my others. This race combined the best of both of those experiences for me. I enjoyed being able to run 90% of it as in The Silver State 50/50, and I also really enjoyed the woods as much as in Infinitus. I don't think I will lose a toe nail like I did for those other two, but Heather may.



I'm eating pizza.



With any kind of luck we'll be living near Greenville next year
and can make this race again.  

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Free Will and Free Enterprise

Politics is a volatile subject. As is religion. And I am not claiming to be an expert in either. In fact, most of us are not.

But in this very short blog I will offer an explanation to the shit that keeps going on around this world.

Education and Equality. 

Make each of those a universal priority, watch what happens.




Friday, November 13, 2015

Olive Juice Olive Garden

This past Saturday, 11/7/15, I was scheduled to run the Craft Brew 5k in Charleston.

It was cancelled. 

Weeeeeaaaaak. So weak. My mom and sister flew down from VT to do it with us. I rented a non-refundable room in Charleston. I really wanted good beer. The list goes on about how weak this was.

But whatever. Although I haven't done a review on lemons yet, when life does hand you some lemons, make some kind of fruity cocktail, or trade them in for oranges.

And damn straight that's what we did. We shuffled off to Charleston to run with the Happy Heretics. So we still got in our 5k, we still got to drink some beer, and we had a wonderful and imaginative tour of Patriots Point in Mt.Pleasant to boot.

(Patriots Point is pretty bad ass, by the way.)

Photo Courtesy of Patriots Point.


As much fun as I had though, I'm not going to type at you about my run. Nope.

Gonna type at you about something that may have become very dear to me. An experience shared with my mom, my sister, my girlfriend and a nearby table full of very experienced and well rounded consumers.

This is a review on............
Olive Garden!

I never expected to eat at an Olive Garden. Let alone in Charleston.
But our hotel was too far from town, and we didn't want pizza and there was shit else, other than Hooters, so Olive Garden it was.

The place was pretty packed when we arrived, maybe 7pm-ish or so. The hostess issued us that fun little Simon game beeper thing and said it was about a 15min wait. She lied, it was about a 3min wait.

After sitting down, I was pretty happy with the menu. It's pretty damn hard to find vegetarian options at many places in the south, but OG, that's what I'm calling Olive Garden now, had plenty. So I ordered the Ravioli di Portobello and a Long Island Lemoncello. I like goofy drinks, shut up.

Shitty picture, good drink


The Ravioli cost $12.99.  Normally I'd be pissed. I mean, paying that much for pasta? But, I gotta tell you, it was really damn good. The portobello stuffing was fantastic and the smoked cheese sauce was like nothing I've tasted before. So good. In fact, here's a link to that ravioli. It was worth the $12.99...that my sister paid.

Photo courtesy of Olive Garden

But there's more!

At OG, you get unlimited bread sticks! And if you order a salad with your meal, you get a big ass bowl of salad too. It's not a fancy arugula or beet salad or anything like that, it's a straight up iceberg and tomato salad, with dressing already on it. And it's good. I'm pretty damn sure it's bottomless too.


I'm a fat guy stuck in skinny guy. I like to eat. At the OG, I was able to eat like I wanted. It's very rare for me to be happy with most portion sizes. ALWAYS HUNGRY. But damnit, OG filled me right up. 

You can probably tell I'm pretty damn happy with OG. But let me say a few things here. 

Eating at the OG more than once every three months is going to cause Metabolic Disease. That's a pretty undisguised way of saying it'll make you fat. All that cheese, pasta and bread? Ya, it'll pack some pounds on.

If you're exercising regularly though, if you need to put on some pounds, if you need some glycogen restored, or if you need a massively heavy caloric recovery meal, then get to your local OG.

And bring some friends or family too man, it's a pretty fun atmosphere. Plus going out to eat alone is kinda sad.

Some secondary notes worthy of mentioning:
1) Our waiter was excellent, but I feel that funky little Wifi Tv thing on the table takes away from a dining experience. I understand that it probably saves the waitstaff some work, but who wants to interact with yet another piece of technology? Do I have to leave a tip to that damn thing too?
2) We didn't do desert. Too full. But the deserts did look pretty damn good.
3) My drink was good too. Easily the equal of a cocktail I got at Landshark the next day. 
4) I don't typically like chain restaurants, this is rare for me.

I had wanted to show more pictures of portion sizes and such, but the camera in my phone blows.

If I make it to the OG after my Ultra next weekend, I'll try to take pictures with Heather's real camera.

Till then, get to your local Olive Garden with some friends and family.

 




Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Product Review: "On the House" Bloody Mary Mix

Every Joe, Dick and Harry claims they have the best Bloody Mary mix in the world, often it's some sort of weird alpha male thing. 

Ever notice that?

When was the last time some little pencil neck claimed to have the best Bloody? NEVER. 

Bloody Marys are a little subjective. Most people seem to like them spicy or at least very flavorful. Not everyone likes them salty or garlicy or peppery. But everyone wants a Bloody Mary that has some kind of pizzazz. (Why even bother with a mix if you're just going to drink vodka and tomato?)

You've probably had good Bloodys, and probably had some bad one's too.

Man, I remember at NURD a few years back, someone brought Puffy's recipe. And it was goooooood. Real good.
At Sebago Restaurant in Portland ME I had a pretty memorable and tasty Bloody.
Oh man, Sillys. Silly's has some wicked Bloody options. Damn, I should have moved to Portland just for that place.

Well, I don't have the means or patience to fine tune a Bloody Mary recipe. I usually just make a gazpacho and add vodka. But sometimes I don't even have time for that so I'm forced to buy Bloody Mary Mix.
And I recently bought this stuff:

On The House Bloody Mary Cocktail Mix


We bought this on sale at our local Kroger grocery store. It was two for five bucks. Not a bad deal there.

What kind of vodka did we use?

We're not in New England anymore.


Exclusiv?  What the hell was that? Where'd we get that? 

The liquor stores in South Carolina SUCK. Expensive as hell and crap selectionI mean, it wasn't bad tasting vodka, but for the money...

Annie Lenux sucks just as bad. "Sweet Dreams"? Is she referring to herself? Gross.

So this Bloody Mary mix. I should have looked at the ingredient list. Water, Tomato Paste, Salt, High Fructose Corn Syrup, blah blah blah. 

I love sodium.

The first ingredient is water, and it tasted like water.

NO flavor at all, maybe just a slight tinge of rusty sheet metal, but nothing you'd want in a Bloody Mary.

Fortunately I had plenty of veggies kicking around for this bloody debacle. So I diced up some peppers, carrots and celery and chucked it all in there with more salt, pepper and Tabasco. Basically making that gazpacho I just talked about.

My Dad makes a good gazpacho.


There's no real tomato flavor, I had to add tons salt, pepper and Tabasco to give it any character at all. But there was still that lingering rusty taste, and my fillings are all pretty new, so it wasn't that. It's this mix, man. 

And yes, I looked the expiration date. Its 3-16. So it is technically still fit for consumption. 

We really try not to waste food, beverage or booze. So the girl and I somehow finished to wipe out one of the two bottles. But now I'm stuck with another brand new, un-opened bottle of this...


Announcing my first blog campaign Give-Away!

You, yes YOU could win a bottle of "On the House" Bloody Mary mix! 
Simply comment below on this blog and tell me how drinking Bloody Marys has made your life better.
First one to comment wins it!!

I don't have a car. So you gotta come get it.

 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

World Peace Through Beer

 

http://www.worldpeacethroughbeer.org/

Maybe you're asking yourself "What the hell is World Peace Through Beer". Maybe you are, maybe you aren't. But if you didn't partake you really missed out. (Unless you're teetotal or just plain lazy, then you wouldn't have enjoyed it.)

The short story of World Peace Through Beer (WPTB) is that it's simply a way for us hashers to celebrate United Nations Day

But there's a little bit more to it than that.

The Hash is notorious for shitty beer. Shitty, shitty beer.
And it makes sense. 

During the middle of a run you don't really have time to bother enjoying a good beer. 
For doing Down-Downs you probably don't want a good beer, for a similar reason.
Why waste the money, effort and resources on good beer?

Gross.


World Peace Through Beer is one of those special events where shitty beer is shunned like a liberal at a rodeo.

Different kennels may celebrate WPTB a bit differently from one another, but typically it involves different kinds of beer from around the world. It's a real nice change from PBR, Busch or the dreaded Bud Lite. WPTB gives us a chance to try something new, something international and probably even something good. 

Ass





On an important note: not all imports are good, I had the grossest Sour Beer last weekend and there was even some other beer that smelled like ass. 







The first WPTB we were involved with was with the Pooflingers H3, a New England traveling kennel. Once a year they offered the WPTB Challenge. 
Any participants in said challenge had to bring to trail one beer from 5 different continents, for 5 total beers. But, those beers could not match the beers from another contestant. If they did match, you both blow the challenge and have to wait another year to attempt it again.

WPTB Patch on top. Don't worry about the bottom patch yet.

That challenge is a pain in the ass. (See previous Ass picture)
How many beers from Asia or Australia can you find at your local store? Ya, maybe Kirin and Fosters. But if you have 3 or 6 people trying this challenge and you all show up with a big green can of Fosters, you all lose. So you need to do your research, you don't wanna be the schmuck that thinks Tecate is from South America. And the best place to research this is at your local specialty beer store. Something like Ryan&Casey's.

But this challenge is also awesome because after trail and circle, all that beer gets drunk, as do most of the hashers. 
In fact WPTB 2013 was the drunkest I've ever been. Thanks for the On-After Roscoe!

Proudly displayed, we've both earned the Poof WPTB patch.


Now we're living in the South so on October 24th 2015 we ran with Cape Fear H3 for their celebration of WPTB. (Also their 100th trail.)

No Challenge for this trail, but instead our trail, as opposed to having standard beer checks with shitty beer, had beer stops with international beers. Both at various bars in Carolina Beach and out of the hares' trunk.

Trunk Stop. (The driver does not partake.)

Man, I love running Urban. Ya, you can have more fun and debauchery in the woods, but there is something so great about running through a busy downtown with a bunch of other fools just trying to get to the next bar. And the bars we stopped at were pretty great. I don't remember their names, surprise.

All the bars we stopped at were year round out-door set ups. Kickass.


What'd we do? Three or four bars and one or two trunk stops? I was going to wear the GoPro so I'd have it saved to digital memory, but I gotta respect that some hashers want anonymity. So no GoPro.       

My girl and I decided somewhere around the last beer check that I'd be designated driver for this outing. Sometimes you gotta take one for the team, and that meant for circle I couldn't really drink much. But my hunny had a good time and drank enough for both of us.      

It's interesting to see how different RAs\Kennels run their circle. Our RA set up a second cooler outside of circle to send noisy hashers to. Pretty cool idea. Instead of having to yell "Hash Hush" just send the guilty parties off to their own cooler. Bummer there wasn't ice for them to sit on.
Different songs are good too! Cape Fear knows Yogi, which sucks, I hate that song. But they've a bunch of stuff we've never heard before. Oh, they also know Dicky Die Doh, or whatever it's called, here too. I hate that damn song more than Yogi. 

On-In. Lonely Pirate? Lazy Pirate? Lumpy Pirate? Anyway, that was a kickass On In. Hunny continued to drink some good beer, we got some killer nachos and fried green beans.
(I feel we lost the DTW and Trashers at the On-In...did we?)
And I finally got see Shagging. I know! I know! Not what you think though, it's just what Southerners call East Coast Swing. It's big here. 


When all was said and done, twenty to twenty five us ran about four miles through downtown Carolina Beach. We ran through some really nice areas, we ran through town and we checked out a few bars that I never would have found on my own. I met some cool new people and got to hang with the wicked fun Cape Fear Hash House Harriers. All in all, a helluva great way to spend a Saturday. 

Proof reading this, I can't tell if this was supposed to be a Product Review or a Race Review. Bah, whatever.

Solidarity Comrade!

I've highlighted Pooflingers and Cape Fear.







                                  




What are you doing next United Nations Day? Other than nothing because who the hell celebrates that anyway? 

Get a hold of your local kennel, or even me, if you'd like to participate in WPTB. It's a good time. You'll make some new friends to run with, and you'll make some new friends to drink good beer with. Win-Win right there.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Product Review: Night Runner 270


We run a lot at night. Whether it's due to some crazy overnite race training or because it's cooler out, we do it.

It adds a huge sense of adventure to an otherwise hum-drum run and it makes every trail feel brand new.


But the risks of running at night are quite obvious and these Night Runners help alleviate the biggest one. Visibility!

Even brighter against a yellow toe box

 At 150 Lumens, these are quite bright. The 270degree of light insures anything heading your direction (car, dog, bear) will see you. 

There is also a bright red rear facing light, again making sure you are readily seen.


Unlike a steady beam flashlamp or reflector, the movement of these lights on your feet is almost impossible to miss. Similar to pedal reflectors, the eye really catches the motion.


We've worn these on several trail runs, using several different pair of shoes, under different weather conditions. But the consensus for each run has been the same:


These are a great supplemental light source
.


Let's get into some thoughts on the product itself:


They are light weight. With the possible exception of running in Vibrams, you won't notice anything extra on your feet. (We don't have scale to weigh them.) 



They are very simple to get on your shoes, and better yet, easily interchangeable. There is no need to unlace your shoes. Simply slide the clip in place under your laces. And they always felt secure.
This factor is quite important. If you are doing a race where you need to change your shoes for some reason, you probably dont want to have to unlace your shoes to re-apply your lamps to new shoes.


They are weather resistant. Running in the rain presented no problem. However, we did not submerge them.


One button, easily accessible, to operate. Steady and Flash mode. 


USB charging. That's pretty convenient. You can charge them anywhere.


There is a 5-8hr battery life. We can currently easily attest to 2.5hrs .
Easily adjustable tilt angles.

Running at night requires you to able to see, and you being able to be seen. These lights do the latter with flying colors.


Using only these lights on your feet however, you never end up with a steady light source on the ground in front of you. In fact, the constant up and down movement of the light can be rather discombobulating.


And although bright, the way these set on your feet don't really allow you to see many technical trail features, even with the multiple angle adjustments.


When used with a headlamp or knuckle light however, these lights rounded out a good lighting system. A brighter main lamp will drown out the previously mentioned  up-down movements. The light weight of them makes them easy to forget they're on, yet if you're in a pinch and your main lamp were to fail, you could easily remove one of these from your shoe and utilize as a hand held. (My advice is to always have a backup lamp.)


I also can't stress enough just how visible these make you. Always wear reflective gear and lamps.

Dual USB cable included

These are currently selling directly from Night Runner for 59.95




Update 10-23-15
I've since taken these on a couple of road runs. I received complements from other runners on how bright I was. That's a plus.

But the right unit no longer works. It faded out 2miles into run last week and now won't even charge properly. I can't say why, but these little units are definitely not meant for being fixed at home.

I haven't tried to contact Night Runner as of yet, but I can tell you this...unless you have a lot of extra money to spend on a unit such as this, I would just stick with ankle reflector bands and run smart, ie, don't run on busy roads at night.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Race Review: Myrtle Beach Mini-Marathon

This probably isn't going to be a very exciting re-cap. Honestly, there really isn't much exciting about a road half marathon compared to a trail run or OCR or a Hash, but here's the skinny my Myrtle Beach Mini.

A picture of my cat, Shitten. Just because she's cute.


My last post I had mentioned that I was given a bib for this race. That was really damn awesome of my buddy to do. It was around 85$ to do this event, and no way in hell did I have that kind of money to throw at a road race. But I really did want to do this race, it's local, my running club was doing it, and I haven't run a half in a loooong time.

The start line was the Grand Coastal Mall, just a short drive from my house, ten minutes or so. And of course, start time was 7am with gear check until 6:45 (the course was A-B, not a loop or out and back). 

So it's dark as a pocket and coooold, well, cold for here. It was 47.  People are bundled up in garbage bags and throw away gloves, hell, I almost busted out those hand warmer packets that you shove into mittens. I'm a pussy about the cold.

Ten minutes before go time we all try to squeeze into our corrals. There were around four thousand runners trying to jam in. I'm not quite positive what pace I'm going to run, but I line up in the 9-10min corral. 

OK, here's a spiel. 

Every damn event feels the need to play the National Anthem. Ok, that's cool. But what the fuck is up with all the artistic liberties being taken with this song? It's the godamn National Anthem. Sing it the way it's meant to be sung, it isn't some shit rap song for every Joe, Dick, and Harry to re-mix. 



I propose that the current president has to sing it and we just use that version throughout their incumbency.



Or Danny Elfman could do it. There, I solved another problem.




After the National Anthem we get the countdown."On your mark", "Get set", then...not a horn, but what sounded kind of like a four year old with a kazoo. It was hilarious. Maybe the DJ squeezed a duck or something. Some how we all managed to squeeze under the starting arch and get on the course safely. Road races are always such pandemonium.

I mentioned the cold, ya? Well it takes me a good three miles to warm up, at which time I have got to pee like a sumbitch. And thank goodness there's porta-jons on the sidewalk at about mile three.

Being the polite runner that I am, I look over my right shoulder, to make sure it's clear, hell I even signal, then I jump onto the sidewalk and sprint to the shitter. And of course I tripped and fell.

Tis but a scratch.


Mile five and my gut is getting angry. That kind of angry that can't be ignored. Mile six had more porta-jons! 
This is another reason I really enjoy trails so much more. Having to wait for designated porta-jons sucks.

Why is there some idiot in a full camo jumpsuit out walking his dogs? He's smoking too, there's a surprise. He needs to put that cigarette down and eat something, scrawny redneck. Bet he drives one of those jacked trucks in the parking lot. 

I heard a lot of bitching while sitting in the porta-jons. There were a few Jons with no line when I got there, but then some people queuing out front were complaining they were losing precious seconds waiting. 

What the hell. You ain't winning bitch, take a pill. If you're really trying to PR, just subtract your wait time from your bib time, nobody cares about your PR anyway.

From this point on, the course was rather nice. We previously had been on some major roads (closed for the race, of course), but now we were on a nice wooded bike path. It was a bit congested, but nothing too horrible.

The bike trail, unbeknownst to me previously, spit us out where we often start our Saturday group runs. Cool beans, home territory and I now know where we're going. To the beach! Well, sort of. To Ocean Blvd anyway.

It was fantastic running the last few miles down Myrtle's main drag. There were a good bit of people out and about, many cheering for us. Although the ocean itself wasn't always in view, there's plenty of other distractions on the boulevard, all kinds of souvenir shops, T-shirt shops and general goofy Myrtle Beach stuff.

This course does something a little cruel to the competitors. We've been running south on the blvd until, I'd guess, maybe mile 12 or something like that. At mile 12 you basically run past the finish line which is just to the left of you. You can see it! But you run past it then do a full hairpin turn and run down the boardwalk. And the boardwalk is constant chicanes. It's kind of funny because your legs are shot, everyone near you at this point is cooked and yet we're all trying to kick to the finish while navigating this. I'm glad/surprised I didn't crash here again.

The finish line is quality. You're basically under the SkyWheel, a big Myrtle attraction. There were bottles of  water, bananas, apples, nuts and cookies. And of course the legendary big ass medal.

It's big.


There was a post run party area set a bit further down the boardwalk. I was ID'd  at the entrance to the beer garden which was pretty empty when I got there. But hey, the beer supplier had a bunch of cups ready, so I just walked up and took an Octoberfest.

Shuttle service back to the mall was quick and easy. Although our bus was having some serious mechanical problems, it only took about ten minutes to get back to our vehicles at the start line.

So like I'd mentioned, not a lot to tell. 

If you're a runner, it was fun. It was pretty well organized with plenty of volunteers, staff and police support throughout. The pre-race expo on Friday was good sized with lots of vendors. Registration and gear check were efficient and easy. There was musical entertainment along the course and at the finish. The swag was decent with a tech T, gear bag and that monster bottle opener medal.

Surprisingly subdued colors for Myrtle. Where's the Neon?



 If I'm still in Myrtle maybe I'll do it again next year.