Saturday, March 29, 2008

California Vacation - Day 6

Today Tami and I checked out the huge Sequoia trees in the Tuolumne Grove and hiked up to Vernal falls. The views were breathtaking. Here's another video that I made with the photos we took...

Friday, March 28, 2008

California Vacation - Day 5

Don, our personal tour guide, took Tami and I around the park today to show us all of the usual spots that tourists like to check out. We were able to see a lot of waterfalls, El Capitan, Half Dome, and a lot of other neat things. It was great having him with us today so that we didn't have to waste any time looking at directions. Here's another video I made to show you what we saw...

Thursday, March 27, 2008

California Vacation - Day 4

Tami and I drove 6+ hours up to Groveland, CA to stay with some friends of my family who live only about 20-25 minutes outside of Yosemite National Park. It was a long time in the car but the scenery made it seem a lot shorter.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

California Vacation - Day 3

Today was a more laid back day. I went for a 5 mile run along the ocean in Long Beach, then went over to the Yardhouse for happy hour from 3-6. Later in the evening Tami and I met one of her old co-workers who was also in town for the fitness conference and we had dinner at Gladstone's, a very good seafood restaurant next to the harbor.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

California Vacation - Day 2

This morning I drove south down the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) through Huntington & Newport Beach to go for a run in the backcountry of Crystal Cove State Park.

Click Here to view the trail map. I started at the Ranger Station near the bottom of the map and ran the perimeter along the left side up the top of the map. Then I came back to my car via the "Elevator" trail and the "El Moro Canyon" trail for a total of 9 miles. I have to say this was one of the most beautiful trails I have ever run on. On my way out the views of the mountains and the ocean behind me were breathtaking. Then after I turned around I was able to enjoy running through the valley. Got to see lots of great wildlife, flowers, cacti, etc.

In the evening after Tami got out of her conference we went back to Newport Beach so I could show her the area and then we went out to eat at Duke's Restaurant in Huntington Beach on our way back to Long Beach. This is one of only 3 other Duke's Restaurants. We ate at the one in Waikiki when we were on our honeymoon in Hawaii and tonight brought back some good memories. Here's another video of today's activities...

Monday, March 24, 2008

California Vacation - Day 1

This morning Tami and I picked up our rental car, a Lordstown built Pontiac G6. We then drove north to Hollywood and ate lunch at a place called Mel's Diner. Then we drove through Beverly Hills and saw a Lamborghini on Rodeo Dr. Around 3:30 we began driving east to visit my aunt/uncle who live in Upland, CA and went through some major LA traffic. At least we weren't in a big rush to get there. After arriving at their house Uncle Phil showed me around their place including the orange, lemon, and tangerine trees that he has growing in his backyard. We then went out to dinner at a very nice place that started out as an old hotel back in the late 1800's. I had a $40 delmonico steak and it was delicious! Here's a video of some pictures we took throughout the day...

Saturday, March 22, 2008

California Dreamin

Our hotel & the Long Beach harbor area

Tomorrow my wife Tami and I will be leaving Cleveland Hopkins at 3:55pm and arriving in Long Beach, CA later in the evening. She will be attending the ACSM Health & Fitness Summit that will take place at our hotel and the adjacent convention center from Monday through Thursday morning.

In the meantime I'll be exploring trails around the area, including Newport and Laguna Beach, and also enjoying The Yardhouse which is located in Shoreline Village right next to our hotel by the harbor. On Monday we're also planning on driving up north around Thousand Oaks to check out the Santa Monica Mountains National Recereation Area, Malibu Creek State Park, and Topanga State Park region. The forecast for Long Beach right now says 75-80 degrees and sunny each day we are there. Then on Thursday we'll be driving north to Groveland, CA where we'll stay with a friend of mine who lives right next to Yosemite National Park until Sunday.

This vacation couldn't have been timed any better with the crappy weather we're still having here in N.E. Ohio.

Friday, March 21, 2008

March Madness

Well, this year's NCAA Tournament has definitely lived up to its name of "March Madness" so far. Today in Tampa, two 12 seeded and two 13 seeded teams came up with upset wins in the first round. This was the first time in tournament history that four upsets took place at the same location. Luckily this didn't cause too much damage to my bracket, but we'll have to wait and see how things go in Round 2.

To view all of the teams that I picked to win, click on the bracket shown above. The schools listed in blue are winners. Those listed in red have lost. And those listed in black are teams that haven't played yet.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Rover's Morning Glory is returning

Just as I got home today I heard great news that Rover's Morning Glory will be back on the radio again starting April 1st on WMMS 100.7. The host of the show, Rover, aka Shane French, has been off the air for about a month now due to a contract dispute with CBS. Originally broadcasted on 92.3, "Rover's Morning Glory," includes sidekicks Duji, Dieter, Dumb and DJ Jazzy Jim, and is known for its outrageous stunts and pranks. I'm looking forward to having these guys back on the radio again for my daily work commute. Hopefully this isn't an April Fool's joke!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Covered Bridge FA 50K

Jeff (left), Dan Kuzma (middle), and myself

Last night I stayed at my parent's house in Warren so I'd have a shorter drive to Youngstown this morning. My brother Jeff and I still had to wake up around 5:45 though so we could get ready and be in Mill Creek Park at 7:00 to meet my friend Dan Kuzma. When we arrived at Fellows Riverside Gardens we noticed the parking lot was locked (it opens at 8:00 I guess) but we saw that Jim Harris and Kurt Osadchuk had parked their cars on the street outside of the gate. Shortly after we arrived Dan showed up and suggested that we park our cars down by the Old Log Cabin so we don't get ticketed. I figured it was a good idea to be on the safe side and since this area is part of the course anyways we headed downhill, parked, and got ready.

Looking up at the Fellows Riverside Gardens building

We decided not to bring any food, water, etc. with us for the first loop since it's possible to stop back at your car after each 8 mile loop. When we started running shortly after 7:00 it was still somewhat dark, but light enough to see what we were doing on the trails.

The temperature was around the freezing mark when we began and gradually warmed up into the upper 30's with mostly cloudy skies. Click Here for today's weather. With the combination of snow melt from the last winter storm and freezing temperatures in the evening we weren't too sure what to expect but figured that the trails would be pretty tricky, so of course I wore my screwed shoes for added traction.

We began running the trails on the west side of Lake Glacier and could immediately tell that we'd have to pay special attention to our footing. The trails had less solid ice and were definitely more runable than last year's Covered Bridge FA 50K, but today we had to deal with every possible trail factor - snow, ice, slush, mud, and standing water.

Snow on the ground near the Lily Pond

The trail on the east side of Lake Cohassett

The river was gushing with water today due to all the rain and snow melt we've had recently and the waterfalls were definitely a sight to see...

The first loop was very conversational and I enjoyed talking with Dan since I hadn't seen him for quite awhile. We thought we'd run into "Slim" Jim and Kurt "O-Pod" shortly after we began but then realized that we should've started off running the loop on the east side of Lake Glacier since they parked their cars close to the trail on the west side. We knew we'd run into them though once they turned around at the Rose Garden and began their 2nd loop. Sure enough we ran into Jim around Pioneer Pavillion, just after talking to Kim. He informed us that Bob, who was in town this weekend from San Diego, would not be able to make it due to some family issues. After the run I called Bob and found out that he was visiting his grandpa who is in pretty bad shape. I was sorry to hear this since another one of my friends, Mike Keller, had lost his mother to lung cancer during the week and was also unable to attend our run today.

In honor of Mike's mom, Dan, Jeff, and I ran a mile in silence today which started at mile 14 and continued until we reached our car again at the halfway point. During this time it was very silent and I reflected on all the important people in my life and those that are closest to me. Later on in the run when I was getting really tired I thought about what Mike and his family must be going through during this difficult time and it made all of my pain seem very minuscule in the scheme of things.

Once we passed Jim, we ran into Kurt on the trail. We talked to him some and then met up with Frank Dwyer. So, in total we had 7 local ultra runners participating in today's free event. After the 2nd loop I made sure to load up on fuel since I knew the 3rd loop would be a battle. My stash of goodies in my car consisted of Clif Bars, Clif Shot Bloks, Pure Fuel Energy bars, a couple apple cinnamon Powerbar Harvest bars, a few E-Caps, and some chocolate chunk Giant Eagle cookies.. my favorite! I also had a large bottle of water and "Glacier Freeze" Gatorade.

The third loop was more of a struggle for us as we became increasingly tired. The uphills and downhills (especially the infamous "monkey trail hills") were getting more slick as everyone traveled over the same areas multiple times.

There were also a lot of tricky spots that required a lot of attention, where we had to run right next to where the trail dropped off into the water. This was caused by sloped snow banks that were frozen solid next to us.

As we got close to the Covered Bridge at Lanterman's Mill (turnaround point) Jeff had some extra energy and decided to run ahead of Dan and I and then wait for us back at our car. On the second half of the 3rd loop Dan and I started power walking a lot more and made it a point to just get back to my car to refuel for the 4th and final loop. Thanks for sticking with me Dan and giving me someone to chat with!

Once we got back to the car Jeff had been sitting for around 20 minutes, so we hurried up, got what we needed, and hit the trail again. We were all dreading the fourth loop though, as our bodies began to ache more and more. In fact, we walked almost the entire 8 mile loop... but there was no backing down now. The trail was becoming really sloppy as the temperatures warmed up and we were really looking forward to finishing. After rounding Lanterman's Mill for the last time we knew we were on our way home. We ran into Kim again near Pioneer Pavillion as she was starting her last loop. Great job on sticking it out and finishing Kim! We talked with her for awhile and she told us about this energy gel that she tried for the first time today called Lava Bar. I guess it's basically melted down chocolate inside of a normal gel packet. She seemed to really enjoy it so now I might have to try one too! Click Here to read her report on this product.

We arrived back at our car in a finishing time of 8 hours and 55 minutes. A lot longer than I thought we'd be out on the trail for, but I'm glad that we toughed it out and finished all 31 miles.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Return to Kendall Hills

Kendall Lake

After getting home from work today I thought about how much fun my brother and I had on our run Sunday so I decided to tackle the Kendall Hills again. On my way there I stopped at Appalachian Outfitters and bought a reservoir dryer to help drain water out of my two hydration backpacks when I am finished using them so that no bacterial forms in them. By the time I arrived at the Kendall Lake parking lot it was after 7, but fortunately the sun doesn't set now until around 7:30 so I figured I could still get in a decent workout before the Cuyahoga Valley police came to lock the parking lot where my car was.

I ended up doing the same thing that Jeff and I did on Sunday - a total of only 3 miles but with 4 big hills included that I made sure to run the entire way up. Then as I started heading back to Kendall Lake, I was able to enjoy another beautiful sunset (a rare occurance during this time of year) while standing on top of one of the biggest hills in the area...

Being in this area the last few days has inspired me to possibly organize a fat ass run here sometime this year where participants will run a 1 mile loop with both of these big hills included, and the object will be to see how many loops you can complete in a 6 hour period. Sounds like a challenge huh?

Just when I thought my fun for today was over, I noticed some movement to the right of me while running on the last trail leading back to the parking lot. I looked over and saw a deer standing only about 10 feet from me...

There must be something that attracts them to this section of trail next to the road because I have seen a lot of other deer in this area before. Well, since I had my camera I started walking towards it and took these 2 videos as I came within about 5 feet...

This deer pretty much just stared at me even when I used the flash on my camera, and then just went back to eating stuff when I continued running. I'm always amazed at how tame some of the deer in the Cuyahoga Valley can be. Then suddenly out of nowhere leaped another deer from the creek bed to the right of me. This deer was also comfortable being around people and must have been a buddy of the other deer because I saw them together on the other side of the road as I was driving back home.

You never know what you'll see while you're out there on the trail and today was more proof of that. My friend Jim Harris sends out a running quote each day to a group of local runners via email, and here is the message that he sent us today. I definitely thought it related to my run today...

"You spend dozens to hundreds of hours on your home courses. This isn't to say they grow old, routine, or boring after the 99th repetition. Even as you run the same place and the same pace, a course never looks quite the same way twice. The combinations of weather, season, light, feelings, and thoughts that you find there are ever changing. Each new run has the potential to surprise you." - Joe Henderson

If you would like to receive Jim's "Quote of the Day", you can send him an email request by clicking HERE.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Ale

A couple days ago I picked up a 6-pack of Sierra Nevada's Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale from Riverside Wine & Imports in Kent. This limited selection seasonal ale, which is in stores now, is one of my favorites and I recommend trying it if you haven't already.

Here are some comments about the ale that I took from the Sierra Nevada website:

This year marks the 25th release of Bigfoot®. Our award-winning barleywine boasts a dense, fruity bouquet, an intense flavor palate and a deep reddish-brown color. Its big maltiness is superbly balanced by a wonderfully bittersweet hoppiness.

“…Bigfoot® captures the imagination, and its character is as big as the name implies, with a huge hoppiness in its earthy aroma, a chewy palate, and a great depth of flavor.”

California State Fair (Strong Ale/Barleywine: 2005, 2000, 1997)
Great Alaska Beer & Barleywine Festival (Barleywine Style Ale: 1998)
Great American Beer Festival (Barleywine: 2005, 1995, 1992, 1988; Ales: 1987)

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Post Blizzard Run @ Kendall Lake

This afternoon I called my brother to see if he wanted to run/hike through the 12+ inches of snow over at Kendall Lake in the Cuyahoga Valley. He said he was up for the challenge so I picked him up around 6:15 knowing that it wouldn't get dark tonight until around 7:30 with this weekend's time change in effect. On my way over to his dorm I noticed a house where some college students had made a snowman with a crown and a beer bottle. Keep in mind that these are the same individuals that have panties hanging from the tree in their front lawn...

As we arrived at Kendall Lake it was very nice to see that the sky was blue and the sun was shining. It made all the snow that we got yesterday seem pretty nice.

We figured that we'd be doing more walking tonight though than running since the snow was so deep. Once we got on the trail however we were pleasantly surprised to see that there was a nice smooth path due to all of the cross country skiers taking advantage of the weather. The ground felt very nice and soft to run on and we didn't have to worry about any rocks, roots or steps since everything was completely covered. This made the downhills extremely fun because you could just let your body weight fall forward and even if you fell it would be a soft landing.

We ran past Kendall Lake over to the Salt Run trail and then took that up to Kendall Hills where we saw lots of people sled riding. Of course since we were the only freaks wearing spandex tights, my brother and I agreed that we better look like athletes and run all the hills the whole way up even if we had to do them slow. It was great running uphill past everyone carrying their sled and then flying downhill while they watch in amazement. One kid however thought he'd be a comedian in front of his friends and tell us, "That looks like a lot of fun... NOT!" We proceeded to run past him to the top of the hill and then turn around just in time to watch him fall off his snowboard, flat on his face. My brother then mockingly said "That looks like a lot of fun". His friends heard us and started laughing at him.

Our run only ended up being 3 miles in total but we were able to run up 4 major hills and the amount of effort that it took made it feel a lot more like 6 miles. Once again my legs felt pretty awesome. Just need to work on my breathing some more. Tonight was a good step in that direction.

Here are a few more really nice photos that we took as the sun was setting...

Note to keep in mind for the future: The Kendall Lake parking lot does close at dark. Just after Jeff and I got back to the car a Cuyahoga Valley cop was pulling in to lock the gate. Luckily we didn't choose to do more miles in the dark tonight or else we might have got locked in.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

The Worst Drive to the Greatest Show

My wife Tami has been wanting to see the circus for some time now, so a few weeks ago I bought us tickets to the Ringling Bros./Barnum & Bailey Circus which was performing at the Chevrolet Centre in Youngstown this weekend. Unfortunately when I bought our tickets for tonight's 7:00 show I didn't realize that we'd be stuck in the middle of this winter's worst storm yet.

The storm began yesterday afternoon and by this morning we already had about 3-5 inches on the ground with another 5-7 inches expected during the day today. Around 12:00 we looked outside and noticed that our apt. complex still had yet to plow the parking lot in front of our building. After watching numerous people spin their car tires we realized that we weren't going anywhere today until a plow came by. Finally at 2pm our driveway got cleaned and we decided to venture out into the winter wonderland to head to my parent's house in Warren before the circus. It didn't take very long for us to realize that the roads were worse than we expected.

Here's a video of us driving on the Ohio Turnpike, which is usually kept in excellent condition. When you can barely see any pavement on this road you know things must be bad. Visibility was down to less than a quarter mile for most of the drive.

After leaving my parent's house in Warren we now had another exciting drive to Youngstown. Somehow we made it to Chevy Centre about a half hour before the show and hoped that the snowplows would do a better job clearing the roads while we were inside.

It turned out that the roads were much better on our way home, but by that I just mean that the clumps of snow were smoothed out so you wouldn't get stuck. As for the circus, we had a great time and it was definitely worth the admission fee. It's amazing to see some of the things that these performers are able to do night in and night out. Here are just a few of the stunts...

You would never catch me inside this cage with 10 tigers

A tiger leaps between the legs of its trainer "Taba"

Alberto dances on the high wire

Monday, March 3, 2008

Chat Live with David Horton

Tonight - Monday, March 3rd, David Horton will be chatting live in the TeamPR live chat room at 8:00 PM EST. To log-in to the chat, click here and enter the password "teampr".

Some background info on David...
David has been relentless in his pursuit of excellence. He has over 110 ultra race starts, 100 finishes, and 38 wins. His cumulative mileage exceeds 70,000 miles. And as a contributor to the sport, he has served as the race director of the well-known Mountain Masochist 50 Mile Trail Race, the Hellgate 100K, the Holiday Lake 50K, and the Promise Land 50K. Some of David's accomplishments include - fastest ever on the Pacific Coast Trail (2,650 miles), 3rd fastest ever on the Appalachian Trail (2,175 miles), 3rd fastest ever on the Trans-America Run (2,906 miles), 1 of 6 finishers ever at the Barkley 100 Miler, and 2-time winner of the first two Hardrock 100 Miler's. To view a video trailer of his new DVD "The Runner" - Click Here. For more info check out David's website.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

BHTM Concert

This evening my brother and I drove up to Cleveland for the Big Head Todd & The Monsters concert that was taking place at the House of Blues at 8pm. Street parking is free on the weekends and we were lucky enough to find a parking spot by a meter that was right next to Flannery's Irish Pub & Restaurant and the alley that you have to walk through to get to the House of Blues.

This is a pretty neat one-way street that has quite a few new establishments including The Corner Alley, Lola, Hilarities, and Pickwick & Frolic.

Since I knew that Flannery's has good stuff we decided to go there before the concert for food & drinks. Unfortunately we found out that there was a George Strait concert taking place at Quicken Loans Arena tonight so we had to listen to country music that was being played and watch people come in with cowboy hats & boots on. We left Flannery's sometime after 7:00 when the doors of the House of Blues opened to listen to the opening act - Australian singer/songwriter Paul Kelly. He had a pretty good voice and was an interesting character. Before singing one of his songs "Winter Coat" he told everyone how much colder it was here in Cleveland than in the land down under.

I looked around as Paul Kelly was wrapping up and saw that the place was really starting to fill up now. I think it was probably close to a sell out tonight. Luckily we were able to stand about 5 feet from the stage the entire night. For $17 you really can't get a better atmosphere than this. I try to only go to concerts at small venues like this because you really get your money's worth.

As they got ready to announce Big Head Todd & The Monsters you could feel the anticipation in the air. The crowd was really pumped up right from the beginning and the excitement continued to build as each song was played. Todd sang incredible tonight and had some awesome guitar solos, the drummer was really into it, and the bass guitarist kept a great beat as always. To quote someone from the message board on Big Head Todd's website, "I had more fun at this concert than at any other in the past. The audience was so friendly with one another that it felt like a huge high school reunion." I couldn't agree more... My brother and I met quite a few nice people tonight and had a great time! Here are some videos that we took and a list of the songs that were played... I'm already looking forward to seeing them play again soon!

Song List

1. Cashbox
2. Again & Again
3. Magdelina
4. Sister sweetly
5. Secret mission
6. Bittersweet
7. Kensington line
8. Flander's fields
9. Please don't tell her
10. Circle
11. How easy
12. Friend of the devil
13. Resignation superman
14. Fortune teller
15. B.H.S
16. Tomorrow never comes
17. Cruel fate
18. Come on
19. Angela Dangerlove
20. Spanish highway
21. Under a silvery moon
22. Blue sky
23. Her own kinda woman (encore)
24. Conquistador
25. Boom Boom
26. Beautiful Rain

The beginning of their first song, Cashbox

Again & Again


Bittersweet (guitar solo)

Kensington Line

Flander's Fields

Please Don't Tell Her

Resignation Superman

Angela Dangerlove

Spanish Highway

Blue Sky

Her Own Kinda Woman (sax solo)

Boom Boom

VR Group Run

This morning my friend Derek picked me up and we headed over to Lock 29 in Peninsula to meet up with the Vertical Runner group for a 7:00 run. The plan was to do 12 miles on roads (since the trails have too much snow), starting from Lock 29, heading south on Akron-Peninsula Rd., looping back around on Ira Rd., and then taking Riverview Rd. back to Main St. in Peninsula. Attendance was pretty good.. about 20-25 people or so. I ran most of the run with Vince Rucci (owner of Vertical Runner), Brandon Russell, a couple guys I met (Aaron and this teacher from Kent State), and about 3 or 4 others. Most of the run was around an 8-8:15 pace, but I was happy that I was able to do two of the last three miles (which are pretty hilly) around a 7:30 pace. My legs felt great during the run and even pretty good afterwards. I can also tell that my breathing is improving with the last couple long runs I've done on the road. I'm really looking forward to getting back on the trails though!