You Know Where To Find Me

Software development, running, music & beer

Other Places, Other Days

So, it’s been a while. About a year and a half to be exact. I’ve dabbled in the various forms of social media, and it now seems the time to get back to where it all started, blogging. I tend to get wordy, so it will be nice to stretch out beyond the restrictions of 140 characters. So what have I been up to?

– Music has always been an important part of my life, so I decided to start up a Tumblr for the main purpose of trying to post a song-a-day for an entire year. Today is day 132 and counting. (I also have a Spotify playlist I try to keep in sync)

– Working. Writing code from time to time. Exciting stuff.

– Beer. Budgetary restrictions put a damper on my pursuit of every buzzworthy craft beer release, so I have gotten slightly more serious about my homebrewing. I finally ditched the Mr. Beer kit and stepped up to a pretty nice five gallon setup, though I’m still doing primarily extract brewing. But I’ve been very happy with the results so far.

– Running. Something has to balance out the beer and the not-so-healthy foods that tend to go with it. Unfortunately, this was the first year since 2005 (when I ran my first marathon) that I did not run a marathon. So I’m stuck on 9. Need to at least get one more under my belt to reach a nice round number of 10. I did manage to get in a half though, the River Run back in September, and can proudly say I set a PR. It might have only been a 22 second improvement, but I’ll take what I can get these days.

So those are some of the things I’ve had going on. Obviously lots of other stuff has happened in the interim, such as my brother getting married, becoming an uncle (twice over), all the Cleveland sports teams continuing to lose, that sort of thing. Going to try to write these things more often going forward. If I forget, feel free to yell at me.

Advertisements

2011 Cleveland Marathon recap

This past Sunday, I finally got a monkey off my back. After failing to best my marathon PR from the 2007 Akron Marathon in my last 3 attempts, I was finally able to break through and set a new PR at the 2011 Cleveland Marathon, my 9th full marathon. And I didn’t just squeak past it by a few seconds. I shaved 5 minutes and 37 seconds off of it. Finishing around 3:40 had been my goal when I started training, but I’ll be honest that I was feeling very negative all week between knee pain I was feeling and the forecast for cold and storms.

My strategy for the race was pretty simple. Start with the 3:40 pace group and try to hang with them as long as possible. This proved to be quite a challenge, particularly at the beginning of the race since the starting area and first mile were very cramped and about a half mile in, the pace group found a seam and surged forward and I was stuck behind slower runners and struggling the get through. Happens with almost every race, yet I still get frustrated every time. I really wish every race would institute starting corrals based on pace, which helps (but doesn’t eliminate) this problem. Anyways, I was able to catch up by the one mile mark, but we had logged over a 9:30 mile, which was well off our needed pace of 8:23. My knee was aching the first few miles, but it finally calmed down and I fell into a nice rhythm.

This was my first time sticking with a pace group, and now I have no idea why I don’t do this every race. While I’m not one for interacting with other runners during a race, it was nice to be around a consistent group and eavesdrop on various conversations. And the 3:40 pace group leaders (there ended up being 3 of them), were awesome. They offered a lot of advice and encouragement during the race, and would often take turns dropping back to help pickup some of the group that was falling behind. They focused on the girls in the group, as 3:40 is a Boston Marathon qualifying time for them, but that was fine by me. I hit the halfway point at 1:50:23 (a little off since I had to stop and grab my own water cup off the table at the stop right before the mark), so I was right on pace, though I have always run the 2nd half of my marathons slower than the first half. Every single time.

I got nervous a few times after getting held up at water stops and then starting back up and seeing the pacers way ahead, but each time I was able to kick in a little bit and catch up. Also, after the halfway point when we were heading out east on Euclid and then Chester, there were a number of times when I really started to slip and fell maybe 50 yards back of the group, but I surprised myself by being able to claw my way back even each time. The pacers were hitting their marks perfectly. I think after the first mile, we were no further off the overall pace by more than 15-20 seconds. Heading towards the lake along MLK, we were approaching the dreaded 20 mile mark, which is usually when things start to fall apart. But I was pounding the energy gels, and I honestly wasn’t feeling too bad. I was starting to have some chaffing issues, but luckily I found the lone medical tent and got some Vaseline (really, just one medical tent along the whole course? Other races have them almost every water stop). Once we hit the lake, the long trek back downtown began. The last time I ran Cleveland, this was the worst part of the race as we were fighting a nasty headwind. But surprisingly it was not bad this year, at least when I was out there.

When we hit mile 24, our group was starting to disperse. I imagine a few people had already gone ahead, but it seemed like quite a few were starting to fall behind. The pace leaders were taking turns falling back to encourage people to keep up, and I decided that now was my time to kick it in. Usually I “hit the wall” well before this point, but I was still feeling relatively good, besides my knee which was starting to bug me. I pulled ahead of the pace leaders, and that was the last time I saw them (though I wasn’t going that much faster, so I could still hear them for some time, pushing the others). It seemed to take forever to get back downtown, and the last mile felt like a maze, dodging down side streets. Once I hit E.9th, and the crowds, and the downhill, it was on. I went as fast as my legs would allow me, knowing I had a good chance of coming in under 3:40. I hit 26, turned the corner and stared down that finish line. Apparently my wife was right there with her friends, screaming for me, but I was so zoned in that I didn’t notice. I hit the finish and stopped my watch, which read 3:39:20. Mission accomplished. Finally.

My Garmin watch was a little off on it’s distance, but it shows the last 3 miles of the race were my 3 fastest miles, and I was running almost a 7:00 pace that last .2 of the race. So the 2nd half of the race I finished in 1:48:57, which is 1 minute and 26 seconds faster than my first half. I had finally achieved the coveted “negative splits” in a race. I thought it was only a myth (at least for me).

Not sure what to credit for my breakthrough. There are a number of things that probably helped to contribute:
– New training plan with heart-rate monitoring
– Sticking with pace group from the beginning of race
– Lots of energy gels (six!) during the race
– Lots of carbs in the days before the race

Whatever it was, it worked. So I’ll probably incorporate all of these in the training for my next marathon (which is TBD). Usually after marathons I claim they are my last. And after running my best one, it’s very tempting to say it was my last. But it was marathon #9. Being able to say I’ve run 10, a nice round number, sounds a lot better. So I’ll probably be back at it at some point. Looking forward to some down time and some shorter summer races.

Here are my stats from the race:

Chip Time: 3:39:20
Division Place (M, 30-34): 80th of 249
Gender Place: 469th of 1632
Overall Place: 568th of 2636
Pace: 8:22.0
Split10K: 0:52:13
Half: 1:50:23
Split30K: 2:36:19

Cleveland Marathon countdown

The 2011 Cleveland Marathon is just two days away, and it is hard to avoid being preoccupied with that knowledge. This will be my 9th marathon, but I still get as anxious as I did for #1. As is typical, I am dealing with some injury concerns which always seem to pop up during these last couple weeks of training. This time it’s a new one for me, a rather sharp pain at the back of my left knee. It just started a few weeks ago, but seems to be getting worse. Yesterday I lasted one minute on the treadmill before having to stop, though I was able to go outside (before the storms) and get in 30 minutes of running with bearable amounts of pain. Here’s to hoping it holds up for 26.2 miles on Sunday.

Hoping for a PR, as always. But those have been hard to come by the last few years for me. I did manage to set a new PR in the 5K last year, but my marathon PR is now nearing 4 years back. Here is a recap of my marathon history, with it’s progressions (and regressions):

– 2005 Akron Marathon- 4:07:49
– 2006 Flying Pig Marathon- 3:52:13
– 2006 Detroit Marathon- 3:49:18
– 2006 Philadelphia Marathon- 3:52:55
– 2007 Akron Marathon- 3:44:57 (PR)
– 2008 Cleveland Marathon- 3:54:30
– 2009 Akron Marathon- 4:14:03
– 2010 Pittsburgh Marathon- 3:50:32

Looks like I should have quit while I was ahead, after Akron in 2007.

Sunday’s strategy is to try to stick with the 3:40 pace group as long as possible and hang on to get in under 3:45 (or more specifically, 3:44:56). I have a tendency to go out too hard and flame out later in the race. Part of me thinks that I am going to flame out late in the race anyways, so why not bank some faster miles early on? But I am always told that is a bad idea, and my experience has pretty much proven that, though it’s still hard to resist the urge. The weather is looking pretty iffy, upper 50s/low 60s, but rain/storms? Would prefer to avoid the rain as I’ve already had one waterlogged Cleveland Marathon experience (2008).

Heading out to the expo in Euclid tomorrow morning, and then home to rest, deal with my anxiety, and eat a big bowl of spaghetti. Good luck to the other runners (particularly my wife Kristy who is running the half)!

Oh, and for those interested, here is a cool 4 minute time-lapse video from Cleveland.com of the marathon course.

Dark Lord Day 2011

This past Saturday, I was able to be a part of what has grown into probably the biggest beer party in the country – Dark Lord Day at Three Floyds Brewing in Munster, Indiana. While I had an awesome time, it has probably ruined every other beer release for my by comparison, because nothing can live up to this thing.

So yes, I was one of the lucky 6,000 to get tickets when the went on sale online back on March 19th. The fact that tickets sold out in about 5 minutes gives you an idea of what kind of demand there is for this event. So I have been planning this trip, along with my friend Kyle from Cleveland Hops since then. On Friday afternoon, we headed out for the 5+ mile trek west to Munster, which is the next-to-last exit off the Indiana turnpike before you hit Illinois. We made one pitstop along the way, at Fatheads in North Olmsted to pick up some growlers to share with others at the event (Headhunter IPA & Stone Age Imperial Stout).

After checking in at our hotel a few miles away, we decided to try to check out Three Floyds, expecting we little chance of making it in. But low and behold, we arrived and had to stand outside for 25 minutes or so to get let in, but then got seated at a table and it was surprisingly not crazy. There is apparently some weird restriction on how many people they are allowed to have inside, to where they only let in about as many people as they have seats for (most bars around here let in about 4x as many as they can seat). So I got my first taste of Three Floyds in a while. I started with the Zombie Dust which is really, really good. Kyle got the just-tapped Brandy Barrel Aged Alpha Klaus, a Christmas porter, which was solid. We shared a goat cheese pizza that was good, and I finished the night with a Three Kings, their recent collaboration with Sun King Brewing, a mix of their respective Alpha King and Osiris beers, a very solid combination. Was hard to stop there, but it was getting late and we had a big day ahead of us.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

The next morning we awoke before 7, stopped for a quick breakfast and coffee, and headed over to Three Floyds in hopes of finding parking. We were in luck to find free parking on the street that was quickly filling up. So we got our gear and headed to get in line. I had a backpack with a ton of water, gatorade and snacks (all of which came in very handy), in addition to the growlers and bottles we brought. Despite being 2+ hours early, there were probably about 300 people already in line, and it quickly grew and grew behind us. It was kind of nasty for a bit with some stiff, cold winds, but once everyone started cracking some beers, the weather was an afterthought. We ended up behind some people from Wisconsin who we spent most of the time chatting with and sharing beers. We poured some of our Fatheads, which everyone liked, and they shared several Wisconsin beers from New Glarus Brewing, including the very tasty Wisconsin Belgian Red. Pre-arranged trades were going on all around us and there were some very impressive beers trading hands. Our WI friend pulled out a very sought after Bruery Black Tuesday and poured it all around, and wow, that was one heck of a beer. The definite highlight of the beers we shared that day.

At 10am, the sun decided to come out and stay for most of the remainder of the day, warming it up to a perfect temperature, and we made our way inside and went straight for the bottle line as we had group A tickets to get our bottles first. The line moved quickly, and once we got inside the warehouse, we traded our generic ticket for a Golden Ticket which we scratched off in hopes of getting the chance to buy one of the four special-edition varieties of Dark Lord. I did not win, but my friend Kyle did, so he got a bottle of Dark Lord aged in 23 Year Pappy Van Winkle brandy barrels, alongside the four pack of regular Dark Lord bottles that myself and everyone else were able to buy with their ticket, at $15 a bottle. (With bottles now going for over $60 each on eBay, seems like quite a bargain.)

After securing our bottles, we headed over to the guest taps line which had gotten quite long at this point, even though not nearly everyone had even made it inside yet. We were in that line probably a half hour, and sadly the highly sought after Goose Island BCS Rare was long gone by then (since everyone we had talked to was looking to try that). I ended up getting an Oakshire Heart Shaped Box which was great. We then wandered around a bit and finally ran into some Cleveland friends at one of the picnic tables where we ended up sitting down at for quite a while, making all kinds of new friends along the way. Most of the table we shared with a crew that came by bus from Chicago. They had all kinds of beers, food and conversation to share. It was just a parade of beers, with people pulling out one after the other of really top notch stuff, including some really great homebrews. I did bring a bottle of my most recent homebrew, a Maibock, and got some really positive feedback from it (granted it was from people who had been drinking for several hours, but I’ll take it). We ran into more Clevelanders, including some people from Fatheads, who got us more food and more beers, and more of the guest tap beers that kept turning over.

Finally, when it started getting a little later, we decided to get in the line to go into the brewpub to try out some Dark Lord, what we had all come for after all. We were in that line for probably close to an hour, but I got more free food and we ended up behind some guys from Columbus who we talked with and eventually shared a table with once we got inside. I had a glass of the Barrel-Aged Dark Lord and the regular Dark Lord, and I sampled someone else’s glass of the Vanilla Bean version, and they were all top notch. While the entire event is a party that no one would want to miss, ultimately it is a result of the great beer that they produce, and this year is no different. I have heard some veterans say it is as good or better than any of the previous versions. I’ve only had it once before, and it blew me away then just as it did on Saturday.

I had no idea what to expect from my first Dark Lord Day, but it exceeded all of my expectations. Normally I am not one for big crowds and crazy events, but it was very well organized by the folks at Three Floyds, and everyone we met was very cool, and friendly, and super generous. Not to sound like a hippie, but there was just such a good, positive vibe that lasted for the entire day (despite all of the heavy metal blaring from speakers and the live stage). While the drive from Cleveland is pretty long, I will definitely be trying to get my hands on some tickets again next year and will hopefully get to share in this party again.

Here is a definitely incomplete list of the beers I drank (or at least sampled) on Dark Lord Day, in approximate order of drinking:
– New Glarus Spotted Cow
– Central Waters Brewhouse Coffee Stout
– Fatheads Stone Age Imperial Stout
– New Glarus Wisconsin Belgian Red
– The Bruery Black Tuesday
– Lowdive Brewing something
– Oakshire Heart Shaped Box
– Firestone Walker Double Jack
– Port Brewing Older Viscosity
– Sprecher Czar Brew (’09)
– Firestone Walker Reserve Porter
– Excelsior Thirteen Anniversary Ale
– Rogue Old Crustacean Barleywine (’08)
– Andelot Cuvee Angelique
– various homebrews
– Upright Brewing Late Harvest
– Haymarket Brewing IPA
– Fatheads Headhunter IPA
– Revolution Brewing Barrel-Aged Sodom
– Three Floyds Barrel-Aged Dark Lord
– Three Floyds Vanilla Bean Aged Dark Lord
– Three Floyds Dark Lord

Charity of the Month – March

One of the best ideas I have come across online in a while is Living Philanthropic. The author of the site (a self-proclaimed “ordinary guy”) is giving to a different charity every day for an entire year. And with just under 30 days left, it looks like he is going to meet his goal. Such a cool idea. He has encouraged others to do the same, so that is what I am starting this month. For year two of his campaign, he is going to pick a charity each month to donate to, which is the model I am going to follow, because I’m lazy and don’t think I would get around to researching enough charities and contributing to one daily. Instead I’ll just pool my money and contribute once per month to a charity of my choice (though I’m open to recommendations). The goal is to contribute to worthy causes and hopefully bring a spotlight on them and encourage others to contribute as well.

I have two long-standing charity relationships that I donate to (very conveniently, via regular paycheck deductions), the Humane Society of Greater Akron and the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank (whose website oddly seems down at the moment). These two groups are important to me, especially since they are right in my backyard. I do have a tendency to donate locally, but I am open to all kinds of charities. So since I have been donating to these two for a long time, I will not include them in my monthly charitable selections but will continue with my regular donations to them.

So with all that being said, the first charity I have selected is the Jordan’s Family Foundation. They are a local non-profit dedicated to raising awareness and funding for the research and development of Congenital Heart Diseases. Their efforts in raising awareness include public speaking at various events and functions as well providing information pertaining to general heart care and preventative techniques in order to help create and maintain a healthier, happier heart. Some of the money raised has gone to organizations such as the Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital Cardiac Research Division and for support groups including the Congenital Heart Information Network (CHIN) and conduct such events as Recess ROCKS! where more than 1000 students joined together to learn about eating heathy, being active and having fun.

This cause is important to me because a very close family member a few years ago suffered a nearly fatal medical emergency due in part to a previously undiagnosed heart defect, a small hole in the heart from birth that is common though usually closes within hours of birth. Also, recently in the news there have been a number of high school athletes who have died during sporting events due to heart defects. These deaths are very sudden and tragic. In addition to the contributions to congenital heart diseases, I like their contributions to programs such as Recess ROCKS! to encourage kids to eat healthy and be active. The rates of childhood obesity in our country are very scary and more needs to be done to address this.

This charity was brought to my attention by my friend Ryan who is raising money for Jordan’s Family Foundation by running the Cleveland Marathon in May. So please consider contributing to his campaign to help raise money for this worthwhile cause.

This is ponderous, man, really ponderous

I have found myself doing a lot of soul searching lately in terms of my working life. After bouncing around several jobs my first few years out of college, searching for the elusive “perfect” one, I finally settled into where I am now with a company that I really like. Almost six years later, I am really feeling like I’m at a crossroads and really need to figure out what I want and where I want to be and go and use that to guide my decision making. I’ve long given up on the pursuit of perfection, and am more now just trying to figure out what my preferences are, what is merely tolerable, and what things I am not OK with. All kind of weighty things, I know, especially when it comes to your livelihood. Things are going fine at work, and they seem to be very pleased with the work that I am doing. I’m just not sure of whether this is the best fit for me still.

In talking with another software developer friend today, I was reminded of some words of wisdom from Uncle Bob Martin in his post ‘Whiners that Fail‘ from a couple years back:

“YOU, and NO    ONE    ELSE, is responsible for your career. Your employer is not responsible for it. You should not depend on your employer to advance your career.”

There is a lot more to it, but that is the main point. I know a lot of people that I work with that would completely disagree with that statement, and in fact, I have found from time to time that I kind of forget it until something happens to bring me back to that realization. I am there to provide a service. And if I get comfortable in what I’m doing and fail to keep up with the rest of the world that keeps on moving outside of the little bubble that I may find myself confined too, then if that bubble were to be burst, I may find a rather ominous gap between where I’m at and where the rest of the industry has moved onto.

From time to time, I get these moments of inspiration, after reading a great blog post or seeing a great speaker, where I get excited again about software development and kind of plan out some rather lofty goal like mastering some new language by doing some enormous project on my own, or something equally outlandish. And then I get discouraged and give up, quickly. My ambition’s archenemy is my current work situation. I don’t get to program that much anymore, and when I do, it’s using rather dated technology and simplistic & frustrating internally-developed frameworks. So my excitement after going to a user group and learning about cool new features in C# 4 gets killed off pretty quickly when I find myself stuck using C# 2 the next day. So I find myself back at square one and stuck in this defeatist loop, and question why I even try. But at least on the bright side, I see myself making a lot more of an effort at least than most of those around me, trying to go to user groups, read up on new things and try out some things in my free time, even if it is very little.

So, ultimately I’m not really sure of the intent of this post other than to get some things off my chest. I guess it is to publicly remind myself of Uncle Bob’s point that I am responsible for my career and I need to start taking that responsibility seriously. Figure out where I’m at, where I want to go, and what I need to do to get there. The same friend I was talking to earlier also mentioned how his manager talked to his team to think of their careers like a stock that would trade on the stock market. And his question to all of them is what are you doing to make your stock price continue to go up? I need to break out of this rut and break out of my bubble and catch back up, and get my stock price back on the rise.

Race Report: Shamrock 15k

A little late in putting this together since the race was last Sunday. But I spent the past week in Colorado Springs for work and did not get around to writing it, or doing much else. I ended up just logging one run during the week, and then a long run of 16 miles today, which did not go very well. My legs feel like mush, painful mush, at the moment. Hoping I am able to walk tomorrow. Thinking my spinning class is out of the question.

Anyways, last Sunday, March 5th, was the Shamrock 15k in Cuyahoga Falls. It is run by the Summit Athletic Running Club and this was the 3rd time I was running it. I am always hesitant to sign up for it because the weather this time of year is very unpredictable. Last year, it was sunny but cold. This year, no sun, still cold, and 4+ inches of snow the night before. Luckily the course was well cleared by the noon start time. The course is also the toughest race course I have ever run. You start off on a mostly downhill trend, going down into the valley, run flat for a mile or so, and then climb back out before flattening out for the last few miles. Looking at my mile split times, can you guess which mile has the worst hill I’ve ever encountered in a race?

Mile 1 – 7:32
Mile 2 – 7:38
Mile 3 – 7:29
Mile 4 – 7:36
Mile 5 – 8:55
Mile 6 – 7:53
Mile 7 – 8:04
Mile 8 – 7:32
Mile 9 – 7:26
Last .3 mi – 2:11

So, if you guessed mile 5, you’re a winner. No, it’s not a typo. I went from 7:36 to 8:55. That hill is so nasty. I ran the whole thing, but I might as well have been walking given how short my stride was. I feel sorry for anyone running the race for the first time and turning the corner and encountering this hill. It’s enough to make any runner’s jaw drop. Anyways, I made it over the hill and climbed up the next 2 miles after that and then logged my fastest mile in mile 9, which is always a good sign. In fact, after the first two miles, no one passed me except for a couple of guys running together, who I then overtook again (much to their surprise) in mile 8, and then I picked off a few more runners in the last mile. So I felt great, but when I crossed the finish line in 1:12:10, I couldn’t help but be disappointed as I missed my time from last year by 5 seconds.

Here’s how my results stacked up to the other runners:

– Men, 30-34: 6th of 16
– Overall: 55th of 231

Not sure if I will squeeze in any more spring races before the Cleveland Marathon on May 15th. Might look to do a 5k or 10k on one of my lighter long run weekends. I don’t really know of any other local 15k races, so it looks like I’ll have to wait another year to take a shot at my 15k PR.

A Tour of Hudson Bars

Last night my friend dropped by and Kristy and I took him out on a brief tour of some of Hudson’s finest drinking establishments. It was by no means a complete tour, but one can only drink so much responsibly in one evening. I like to joke about my boring life living in the outer suburbs of Cleveland, but honestly Hudson does have a pretty decent beer representation.

The first stop of the night was at my favorite (and closest) spot, North End. We managed to catch it on a rare non-busy Saturday night and get 3 seats at the bar (the actual restaurant was pretty packed though). I started the night off big with a Great Divide Grand Cru, which was really good and didn’t overwhelm me despite the 11% ABV. Then, per the bartender’s recommendation, we split up a bottle of Weyerbacher Heresy, a barrel-aged imperial stout that was a very solid brew, but a little lacking compared to some of the higher profile barrel-aged beers I’ve had in the past year. North End may only have 8 beers on tap, but they’re all craft beers and are usually pretty varied and not-too-common, which is great for me as I am always looking to try new things. And if nothing on tap fits your fancy, there is a great bottle selection as well.

Next, we drove a little further south into downtown Hudson and made our second visit to Flipside (I reviewed my first visit over on Cleveland Hops last month). There was a bit of a wait, as we expected, but we grabbed a few drinks from the bar and the wait seemed to go by pretty fast. I had a Southern Tier Old Man Winter, and my companions both got the Lagunitas Cappuccino Stout. Everyone enjoyed their selection. The Old Man Winter I have had several times before and it’s nothing special, but a good session beer that pairs nicely with food by not overwhelming anything. After we grabbed a table, we all got burgers and an order of the sweet potato fries. I went with the Shawn’s Burger, named after the owner, which Michael Symon recently called out for being a copy of his famous Lola Burger. This was a great burger, and further proof that I think I am addicted to fried eggs being added to food, as I also recently made this discovery at Melt by adding one to a Chorizo & Potato grilled cheese. Not exactly a healthy habit to pick up. This also was my first taste of the sweet potato fries, which were great, and much more generous in serving size than the frites I had on my last visit.

The third and final stop of the night was local favorite Kepner’s Tavern on the old main street in downtown Hudson. I had honestly only been there once before, as it’s craft beer selection is almost non-existent, but it made for a nice cap to the evening. I went with a Dogfish Head Chicory Stout and sat back and enjoyed some crowd watching. This place seems to be the young person hangout, though there are people of all ages crowded around the small bar or hanging out in the booths in the back, enjoying some cheap beers and greasy bar food. We were right next to the jukebox (since when do songs cost $1?!) that seemed to be a crowd favorite with everything being played from Journey to Justin Bieber.

House of Jealous Lovers

It’s been a good weekend so far after a pretty busy week. This working out 6 days a week plan is hard to stick to, but I have managed to do it two straight weeks in a row now. Prior to that, I was finding I was having trouble getting in that 3rd run of the week, before the weekend’s long run. And I had missed my Monday night spinning class for several weeks in a row. But today I capped off a second straight 6-day workout week with a very hard 90 minute hot yoga class that left me about as exhausted as a run twice that long. My wife bought me a new yoga mat and a package of classes to the nearby studio she has been going to for a while, Yoga Lounge, in Hudson. So that is our new Sunday thing to do together. She is way better at yoga than I am, but I hope to keep slowly improving over time.

As far as running, I logged just under 25 miles this week, capped off by a 7 mile “race pace run” on Saturday, that went great. I’m usually pretty bad about holding a steady pace, but with the help of my Garmin I managed pretty well. My current race target is 3:40, which would replace my current PR of 3:44 which is now 3+ years old. So that means an average pace of 8:23 per mile. No matter what I tell myself, I typically fall into the trap of starting off too fast and then crashing at the end. But I am going to do my best to stick with a pace group this time. Fortunately, Cleveland does offer a 3:40 pacer.

As far as my rewards for running, I did enjoy some fine brews this weekend. On Friday night, I cracked one of my recent purchases, the limited Sierra Nevada Hoptimum. It is a double IPA, which is one of my most favorite styles. I enjoyed it, though it had a pretty boozy taste to it. While beers of this style usually have a pretty high alcohol level, often the alcohol taste is more masked than it was in this case. Other than that, which wasn’t even necessarily a bad thing, just unexpected, it was a solid beer. Saturday night, my wife and I ventured up to the Tremont Taphouse. The food was really top notch, with a daily special of duck confit sauerkraut balls as an appetizer, and a burger w/ white cheddar, fried egg and tomato, lettuce, onion and a side of fries, which was seriously one of the best burgers I have ever had. Paired nicely with a Heavy Seas Black Cannon. Have only been out there a couple times before, but it has definitely earned some future visits after last night.

 

Today’s title comes from the song by The Rapture, which happened to come up on my iPod during the last few minutes of my run on Saturday. Great song to run to, though I found I had to slow myself down as running to the beat led me to going faster than I should have been.

Cleveland Marathon: January training update

This month I began my training routine for the Cleveland Marathon, which is on May 15th, 2011. It will be my ninth marathon and my first since last May’s Pittsburgh Marathon. My running seems to have plateaued a few years back (my marathon PR was Akron in 2007), so I continue to try new things to finally get over that hump, if it’s even possible at this point. In addition to running, I have started to mix in some spinning and yoga. I am also changing up my training plan and going with one of the Coach Jenny plans on the Cleveland Marathon website. The big change is to run based on effort (mainly with the help of a heart rate monitor), which has led to me running a lot slower so far than I usually do on my easy and long runs. Also, other than the long run, the other runs are based on time and not distance, which is a change from what I’m used to.

At the beginning of the month, I purchased a new electronic training partner, a Garmin FR60. It is not a GPS device, since I do a lot of indoor running, but rather it is a foot pod that tracks distance, a heart rate monitor, and the watch to capture & display all of the data. After going through a number of Nike+ iPod kits over the past few years, I wanted to try something else, and something that included a HR monitor. I am pretty happy with it so far. It’s simple to wirelessly transfer my run data from my watch to my computer and automatically upload it. And I can manually add in runs to Garmin’s website for when I forget my watch (which has already happened once). The Garmin site with all the data is a lot better than the Nike+ website.

So for January, I logged a disappointing 80.62 miles. I say disappointing because I did not keep up with all of the scheduled runs on my plan, including one week (when I was off attending a software developers conference) when I ran just once. My longest run was 10 miles, which I just did yesterday. No problems with anything so far, besides getting in all of my runs and trying to be consistent with my cross training (spinning & yoga). It’s just been a little tough to stick with my slower pace. But hopefully I will start seeing some improvements, and I am looking forward to getting into some tempo runs which start in a couple weeks.