2014 Year In Review

I haven’t blogged a whole lot this year, but it’s Year in Review time!

2014 was a very good year, my first full year as an Oregonian (which I can call myself now) and 2015 is going to start with a bang, but I’ll get to that later.

Fitness:

Well, fitness kind of took a back seat this year, but that’s something Lisa and I are working very hard to fix.  Since before Thanksgiving we’ve ramped our workout routine back to 4-5 days a week and are being better about what we eat.  Summer was a blur with planning and executing the wedding and things got set aside.  I’ve “lost” about 10 pounds over the course of the year, but in reality I’ve yo-yo’d up and down by a good 30 pounds several times.  Right now the better exercise routine has stabilized that and I’ve held the same weight for a couple months but it’s not moving down again quite yet.  Hopefully that will come in the new year, and not in a resolution type way, more in a “change of schedule” type way.

Races:

Well, we didn’t have a lot going on race wise this year, especially in the second half of the year but we still managed to complete three more half marathons.  January 1st saw us ringing in the New Year with another 5K, this time in Portland.  The Portland “First Run” which starts at midnight just like the Tanglewood race and then circles the waterfront and crosses a couple bridges in true Portland fashion. In March I participated in a much beloved Portland institution, the Shamrock run.  Lisa wasn’t able to join me for this one, but I was itching for a medium sized race, longer than a 5K but less than a half.  I originally signed up for the 15K (9Miles) but ended up dropping to the 8K(five miles).  It was great fun and I hope both of us can do it in 2015.  Our last organized races of the season were a 3 in 62 days set of Half Marathons designed to qualify Lisa for the Half Fanatics.  We started with the Oregon Spring Half on May 3rd.  This was an interesting race for both good and bad reasons.  On doctors orders I wasn’t allowed to run long distances for this race, so I devised a run/walk method to allow me to complete the race safely.  Lisa and I ran together for the first mile, and then after than she took off while I walked 2 miles before my next running mile.  About 3/4 of the race (mile 8 or so) I was absolutely sapped of energy. I tried to run my run miles and I just couldn’t.  I managed to finish the race with my slowest time ever (getting passed in the last 1/4 mile by a woman with a cane who was BOOKING it!) and then only to get home and discover I had a fever! I didn’t know I was sick before the race. Also, Lisa PR’d this race!  Next was the Vancouver USA Half on June 15th.  This was a fun race and a great course.  Unfortunately I cramped up yet again at around mile 11 and we had to run/walk/limp/shuffle to the finish.  We finished with the July 4th Sauvies Island half that I watched Lisa at last year.  For this race I can say, well we finished.  We ran really well for the first 6 miles or so and then a couple walk breaks stretched into walking a mile stretched into walking all the way to the finish.  We were both crashing hard, but we made sure to finish.  We may be crazy half marathon runners, but 2 races within 2 weeks was too much for us to handle.

Homebrew:

I picked up a new hobby this year, homebrewing beer! I’ve made 4 batches and the first 3 turned out pretty good.  Still waiting on the 4th one, but so far it’s not looking promising.  We’ll see how it goes.  I got a Mr Beer kit from my sister in law for Christmas and then Lisa immediately encouraged me to jump in with both feet and I started brewing away.  She’s biased, but she likes my homemade beer.  It’s a lot of fun and I get to geek out with all my food science stuff.  I joined a homebrew club as well where I can share that geekiness with others! It’s great.  I’ll actually do some writing for the club next year, but whether that will inspire me to start blogging again, or rather eat up all my writing time is yet to be determined.

Travel:

Lisa and I didn’t do as much traveling this year, but we had a couple good memorable trips.  We went to San Francisco to visit some of her friends who live down there and that was a whole lot of fun.  So much good food and cool sites to visit.  Lisa says San Fran is the only place other than Portland she’d ever want to live.  We also made our second trip to Seattle for a friends graduation.  We only got in one hike this year, but it was a good one.  We drove down to Molalla and hiked up to the top of Table Rock.  It was an interesting and challenging climb, but the reward was an amazing vista in all directions.  Sadly it was too hazy from the wild fires to see very far, but we could faintly make out Mt Hood and Mt St Helens.  We went out to the coast for a couple days after the wedding (see below) and that was great and relaxing.  As much as you love having your family in town, a week surrounded by 100 people all vying for your attention is pretty insane! Weddings are great but they can be a lot of work!

Life:

Well, of course the big thing this year is Lisa and I got married! We tied the knot on August, 23rd and my whole family made it out from the East coast which was a great thing!  She moved into my apartment in SE Portland and now we have a cute, little (emphasis on little!) house together.  Things are great and it helps us stay motivated with our exercise and eating now that we are spending more time together.

Future:

Well, as I promised 2015 is starting with a bang! In, oh, about 36 hours from right now Lisa and I will be headed to Disney for our honeymoon! We’re super excited and we both need some time to “unplug” so it will be great.  We’re spending 3 days at the Parks and then a 4 night Disney cruise to the Bahamas, so the other great thing (as it dips well below freezing tonight) is that we’re going somewhere warm! We are taking workout clothes with us, and along with a lot of walking at the Parks we’re hoping to get in some kind of workout while we’re on the ship.  Elliptical, swimming, something like that.  We’re going on a nature hike and then kayaking while we’re on Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay, so that will be a decent day’s work.

Vancouver USA Half Marathon – Vancouver, WA – June 15, 2014

Last Sunday was Lisa and I’s second in a series of three half marathons this summer. (I never got around to blogging about the Oregon Spring Half on May 3.  I’ll get that soon).  Vancouver represented a new state for both of us as well as a city we spend a lot of time in.  I work there, Lisa’s parents live there, we are getting married there.  The other fun thing about this race is it included a beer festival at the finish!

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A nice shirt and a beer mug for the festival were the swag for this race! Pretty exciting!

Lisa’s cousin Karadee as well as Karadee’s sister Zandra and Zandra’s husband Mike were running this race as well.  We managed to find them at the start and while Zandra and Mike were planning a much faster pace than us, Karadee was right where we were planning to be and so we promised to stay together as best we could.  It worked out really well.  We stayed together most of the way and also hung around with the 2:45 pacer (a fellow Half Fanatic!) most of the way as well.  Our goal for this race was merely to finish and enjoy the race.  No PRs for this one, at least not for Lisa and I.  Karadee and Zandra both PR’d!

The race started at Esther Short park in downtown Vancouver and wound it’s way through downtown, through Officers Row of Fort Vancouver (which was awesome!) and then up the only major hill of the course but it was a doozy! A mile and a half slog up the hill of death.  Then we careened down the hill through a couple parks and then along the waterfront and back through Fort Vancouver to finish back in Esther Short park.  It was a really nice course, even with the hill of death.  We all stayed together until about mile 8 when Karadee just caught some kind of groove or second wind and she took off! We cheered her on as she pulled away.  At about mile 11 my calves started cramping up (again!) and we had to stop and walk a bit.  Tried to run again but only made it another 1/4 mile or so before they cramped up again.  The only complaint I could have about this race is the late stage water stops had run out of gatorade.  I doubled up the water and even ate a second Gu for the sodium and potassium but it wasn’t enough to help.  We had to walk until mile 13 and then we just had one corner to turn for the finish, so we jogged it out to the finish.  I cramped up again immediately but I was able to keep going just until the finish.

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We finished! HUGE medals! Very nice.

After the race we grabbed some much needed food and gatorade and then walked to the car to change clothes and get our beer mugs.  We headed back to the beer festival for some beer and food!  We didn’t realize until too late that the gear check tag from the bottom of the bib got us a free beer from the beer sponser Heathen Brewing in Vancouver.  Oh well.  But we had our free tokens to get some samples.  We had enough tokens to get two samplers (one token each) and then one full beer pour (4 tokens) with our dinner.  I sampled a NW Red Ale from McMenamins, a Saison from Heathen and then got a full pour of Kiwanas Cream ale from Pelican Brewing.  Lisa tried a Porter from Heathen, another one I don’t remember that she just liked the name, and then got a full pour of Irish Stout from Breakside.

10419484_10152171479252543_4023595224265889456_nBeer fest selfie!

It did suck to cramp up towards the end, for like the 4th race in a row no less, but we finished and we made it.  We had a great time and got to spend most of the race with Karadee which was really fun and made the miles FLY by.

Up next is the Foot Traffic Flat on July 4th, which I spectated last year, but this year I get to run it.  This will be the 3rd race in well under 90 days to qualify Lisa for the half fanatics, but after this race we are going to take a break from halfs for a while.  The training has been grueling and trying to fit it in among work, school, church and wedding planning has been daunting.  For the rest of this year and probably all of next year we are going to concentrate on shorter races, mostly 5Ks but some 10Ks and one 15K (Shamrock).  We’ll set different goals, like go for time and work on speed.  Both of us would love to nail a sub 30 minute 5K.

On to the next!

My Beer Journey

Runners love beer.  It’s refreshing and cold and a lot of races hand it out for free. What’s not to like?

I had my first beer at a Civil War re-enactment when I was… well let’s just say I was underage.  That first beer was a Coors Light.  It was essentially fizzy water, when it was ice cold it was pretty much flavorless.  We all start here right? Something light (and usually cheap) like Coors, Beast, PBR etc.  Beer for a lot of people is an acquired taste like many things, coffee, wine, etc.  Start light and work your way up.  A couple years later (again at a re-enactment) I was introduced to a lovely Canadian lager LaBatt Blue which put me on my butt, literally, with a much stronger taste and much higher alcohol content.  I liked it though, for a long time in college this was my beer of choice.

Fast forward through several years of whatever was on sale, on special on draft, or whatever was in the keg and I end up in Greensboro NC.  Here I am introduced to a locally made red ale known as Red Oak.  I fell in love with this beer, and to this day it is one of my favorites, although sadly I can’t get it anymore.  I didn’t realize it at the time, but this was my first taste of local craft brewing.  I went through a period, like many people I’m sure, thinking that some of the “special” brands like Shock Top and Blue Moon were “micro-brews”.. they aren’t.  They are made in the same factory as Budweiser. Microbrews are made in a place where you can walk in and see the fermenting tanks.  Red Oak was made at the Greensboro Ale House and it was only available on draft in a few places around town.  No cans.  No bottles.  They have since opened a new brewery and a cannery and you can get the beer at grocery stores in bottles.  I never got around to trying it before I moved away so I don’t know if it was as good.

A couple years later I end up in Winston Salem and get introduced to several more local beers.  It’s here I discover my first brewpub, Foothills Brewing.  They made their own beer on site! They had several year round brews including three IPAs, a Pilsner, a Porter and an American Pale Ale, plus all kinds of crazy seasonal and one off beers.   It was at this point I was starting to experiment and discover that I liked certain styles of beer, not just certain brands.  I don’t like overly hopped beers.  IPA (India Pale Ale) is usually out, and even some normal Pale Ales are too hoppy.  I like wheat beers a lot (both Belgian Style like Blue Moon, and German style Hefewiezens which are very similar), I like my Red Ales and I like brown ales like Newcastle, Nut Brown Ale etc.  I’m ok with Porters and Stouts but they aren’t my favorite.

Speaking of moving, then I moved to Beervana.  In case you didn’t know Portland, Oregon and most of the whole state of Oregon to be honest is the beer brewing capitol of the planet.  There’s several reasons for this.  First is access to fresh clean water.  A lot of the municipal water around here from from lakes and rivers that are fed by snowmelt.  Very pure and clean and they don’t put any chemicals in it, at all.  The tap water here is awesome.  Also, all of the beer ingredients grow here and grow well.  Hops flourish in this area and in fact a lot of the best hops are from this area.  Cascade, Mt Hood, Williamette etc.  The area south of Portland grows enough hops it’s probably second only to maybe Germany.

EVERYONE here makes beer.  And I mean everyone.  There are brewpubs and microbrews everywhere.  Why anyone would drink “name brand” beer (Bud, Coors, Miller etc) in this town is beyond me.  There’s a couple of fairly big local breweries around here that distribute nationwide, Rogue and Full Sail to name two that I could get back on the East Coast.  McMenamins makes their own beer (and wine and spirits) and not only is that all they carry at their locations, you can only get their beer at their locations.  Laurelwood is a local brewpub with two restaurant locations and their beer is also available at grocery stores.  There’s too many to name but there are so many, I’ve rarely had the same beer twice since I’ve been here.  Every time I go to the store I want to try something new.

Now, since hops grow so well here, Northwest beers tend to be VERY hoppy.  The NWPA (Northwest Pale Ale) tends to be hoppier than most IPAs elsewhere, and the IPAs here will blow the top of your head off.  This proves to be troublesome for me, since I don’t like overhopped beers, but there is still plenty here I can drink.  Widmer makes a great Hefeweisen.  Rogue makes an amazing Hazelnut Brown Ale that I just tried the other day. Laurelwood makes a good Red Ale.  I have plenty of choices.

But now I have one other choice.. My beer journey has now come full circle.  Very soon, within the next couple weeks, I’ll be making my own beer.  Lisa’s sister got us a homebrew kit for Christmas last year and the only reason I haven’t started yet is it’s been too cold for the fermentation to take place, but it’s finally getting warm enough.  Now if I can’t find something I like I can just make it.  I can take something similar to something I like and tweak it to be even better.  I can experiment with different flavors and combos of ingredients and just make stuff up as I go along.  It’s a small kit, only 2 gallons, so if I make something that’s terrible and undrinkable it’s not a huge waste.

Stay tuned as I’m about to seriously get my food science geek on.  There will be updates!

2014 Shamrock Run 8K – Portland, OR – March 16, 2014

The Shamrock Run is a Portland institution.  The race has been run for at least 35 years based on some of the shirts I saw, I’m not sure exactly what anniversary this year was, but it’s been around for a while.  An announced attendance of 35,000 runners puts it on par with a Disney or Rock and Roll series race.  Thankfully unlike the half marathons we weren’t all hitting the road at the same time.  The Shamrock is comprised of 3 races, a 15K (9 miles) an 8K (5 miles) and a 5K.  According to the announcer there were 11,000 for the 15K, 8,000 for the 8K and 12,000 for the 5K run, plus several thousand for the 5K walk and 500 or so for the kids dash.  It was quite a crowd.

I was originally signed up for the 15K but thanks to nasty weather and another round of knee ailments I wasn’t able to get my training up to where I felt comfortable trying for 9 miles when the most Lisa and I had done recently was just under 5.  Since all of the races cost the same I was able to drop down to the 8K rather easily, no transfer fee although no refund for a shorter distance either.  Part of the reason I wanted to run the 15K was both for the challenge, and also $42 is an awful lot to spend on a 5K.  It needed to be worth it to me.  Lisa was unable to join me for this one due to church obligations and so I was running this one solo.

Based on the success of taking the Max train into downtown for our New Years run, I decided to do the same thing for this race and let me tell you, that took so much stress away.  Downtown is bad enough to try to navigate and park much less when there are roads closed and 40,000+ people milling about.  The Max was a great decision!

My Garmin decided to die before the race even started, so I don’t have my own route map from the GPS, but here is the official race route map from the race website.  The majority of the race was along the waterfront and then up into the Northwest Industrial district.  Not very scenic on the way out, but on the way back we were greeted with a vista of downtown and the Fremont Bridge. On the way back we cut through the Pearl and then down Broadway back to the waterfront running through the heart of downtown and past the Pioneer Square.  It was a great way to end a race.

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Since my Garmin wasn’t working I had no idea what my time or pace was.  I missed Mile 1 and was really beginning to question how far we had been when I saw the marker for Mile 2.  We reached the turn around and the water stop and suddenly we were halfway done! When I reached the finish the clock said 1:20 but they started us with a “release and hold” system, not exactly like corrals, but close.  They let a certain amount of people go and then stopped us to let those people spread out and head out before letting the next batch go.  But, we had to wait for an extended period of time while we waited for an Amtrak train that was crossing our path up ahead.  The gentleman behind me mentioned something about how long the wait was and that it had been 15 minutes since the original start.  I figured I had run something around 1:05, which I would have been perfectly happy with.  As it turned out, when I looked up my official time it was just barely over an hour, in fact it was one hour, one minute and one second.  1:01:01 was my official time. I’m very pleased with this time considering what my training regimen has been lately (non-existent).

After the race I got my free beer and my free cup of smoked salmon chowder (which was incredible!!) hopped on the Max to come home and no muss, no fuss I was home and taking a shower less than an hour after I finished.  I could get used to this.

2014 Shamrock Run – Been there, done that, got the T-shirt!

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For the Love of Running

The story of how me and Lisa met is remarkable and, even still, a little unbelievable.  We’ve known each other now for nearly two years and I’ve been living in Oregon now for 8 months and both of us still have moments of “How in the world did this happen?”.  It all started with a simple question of advice,she asked how to transition from a 100% indoor, treadmill runner to running outside.  This led to several days of talking about future races and training plans and then when she told me she was running the Tinkerbell and we’re both Disney nuts, the conversation turned to other topics a shocking number of which we had in common.  Food, beer, wine, travel, Disney, humor, movies, books etc one right after the other rang bells with both of us.  As Lisa so eloquently puts it “We started talking and just never stopped”.

This past Saturday was a big day for both sides of the coin, Love and Running.  First the running.

Foot Traffic was hosting an “Event Expo” on Saturday morning.  Like a race expo where vendors get together to sell their wares to the race crowd, this expo was a group of event managers who were plugging their events.  We had several races we were going to register for anyway and the expo advertised discounts we were sold. The three races we were going to sign up for were:

Oregon Spring Half – May 3, 2013 (Canby, Oregon)
Vancouver USA Half – June 15, 2013 (Vancouver, Washington)
Foot Traffic Flat Half – July 4, 2013 (Portland, Oregon)

We got discounts of 10-15$ off each race and saved almost 50$ on registrations. One of the tables had a prize wheel you could spin for various prizes, most were trinkets like a water bottle, a pack of Gu, a beanie (which is what I won) but one was a free entry.  It was a tiny slice sandwiched between the Water Bottle slice which was split in two.  Lo and behold, Lisa landed on free entry.  This continues her string of prize luck after she won a free entry to the New Years 5K while we were at the Holiday Half.  The event she choice to use her free registration on is the Columbia River Gorge half in October of this year.  If I join her for that one (and I surely will) that will be 4 half marathons this year which will be most in a year for both of us, and the possibility of a 5th if repeat the Holiday Half (which we would like to).   This also presents me with an interesting scenario since there were a few races I had looked at in August and September and that would present the opportunity to complete 6 in 6 months.  This would “moon me up” to the next level of the Half Fanatics and earn my second moon.  Lisa may or may not be able to complete those with me depending on her fall class schedule, but her 3 in 90 days (May, June, July) will qualify her for the Fanatics at the first moon level.

To finish the day a new chapter was opened up on the Love side of the coin.  I surprised Lisa with a trip to McMenamins Edgefield property out in Troutdale where I had made us reservations at the pretty swanky Black Rabbit Restaurant.  This isn’t your normal beer and burger McMenamins, here they serve steak and fish and wild boar and fancy salads and all the usual Five Star items.  We walked around the property and visited all the outlying bars and got our stamps for our Passports and then headed downstairs to the Winery to do a tasting flight.  All of the wines we tasted were fantastic! Then, right before dinner, when the opportunity presented itself and we were alone, I pulled out her Grandmother’s engagement ring which I had secretly obtained from her family, dropped to a knee and asked her to marry me.  She said yes (well.. nodded and cried, but that’s universal right?) and we hugged for a while and then headed down to dinner.  For me the nerves were over and I was relaxed, for her it was time for butterflies and nerves and head spinning.  Dinner was impeccable and it was an enchanted evening.

From a simple email about running styles to being engaged to be running partners for life.  It’s amazing what a run can do for you.

I don’t know how this happened.. and I’m not sure I ever will.. but I am so thankful it did.  I didn’t realize it two years ago, but I know now I am well and truly blessed.

New running shoes?

It seems like I am going to need new running shoes soon, especially before taking on a three half marathon summer that is planned.  Although based on time and mileage, I shouldn’t NEED new shoes yet, but I think I do, which is why I’m opening this up to suggestions from other people.  What do you wear? What do you like? What would you recommend?

My first pair of fitted running shoes were a pair of Brooks GTS Adrenaline 12’s. (My first pair of running shoes were an off the shelf pair of Saucony’s).  These shoes were awesome, as if they were made just for me.  I felt great running in them and (until Disney) didn’t have any knee problems or injuries.  I put over 500 miles on those shoes including 3 half marathons.  When they were ready to be replaced I went back and got the exact same style, just the newer model, the GTS Adrenaline 13.  At first they were great, but pretty quickly I started to notice things such as them not fitting as well, not feeling as good and a spot on my right foot that’s been rubbed to a massive blister during my last two long races.  I’ve put less than 300 miles on them and the right toe is split open and coming apart, my last couple long runs/races I’ve been plagued by cramps, soreness and knee pain, not all of which can be blamed on/attributed to the shoes, but that’s never a good sign.  I don’t think these shoes are going to last much longer and certainly not for another 150 miles of training and three races.

Lisa is also running in a pair of Brooks that she likes but doesn’t love.  She’s thinking about switching back to her Asics that she was wearing before, or maybe even try something different altogether.  I love Brooks as a company, they do a lot of good things with health awareness, race sponsorship, charity work etc but maybe the shoes just aren’t for us.

I loved my first pair of Saucony’s but I don’t believe they make a support shoe that fits me.  So what would you guys recommend?

Here’s the caveat – I wear a 13 Wide.  Not all shoes come in 13, not all shoes come in wide.  I have flat feet and therefore have a huge pronation.  I need support shoes.  I ran in neutral’s before I knew what I really needed and thankfully did not cause any damage/injury.

Thanks in advance for the suggestions!

Weekly Recap – Jan 13 – Jan 20

Documenting progress, even if it’s “bad” (such as a low mileage week or a weight gain) is a very useful tool, so I am going to try to get back into the habit of my weekly recap posts to keep myself on track.  I have to lose 20 pounds (or try as close as I can) in the next 23 weeks (Doctor’s orders!!) so I’m hitting the ground running, so to speak.

Starting Weight – 272 (275) – The doctor weighed me at 275 with my normal clothes on, jeans, shoes etc.  I weighed myself at the gym the next day in my running shorts at 272.

Monday – Ellipitical – 60 minutes
Tuesday – Run – 3 miles
Wednesday – Rest
Thursday – Rest
Friday – Run – 3 miles
Saturday – Rest
Sunday – Rest (Football party!!)

Total mileage – 6 miles
Ending weight – 270 (2 pounds lost)

Whenever you make a change you’re always going to see a pretty big shift to start with.  The key is to stick with the program when next week this turns into no loss or even a gain.  Your body will fluctuate wildly for a while until it settles into the new routine.  Some of that could also be water weight lost since I’m working on drastically slashing my sodium intake and so therefore should retain less water.

Off to a good start!

  • About Me

    I am a recent graduate in Food Science (NC State, 2009) and I work for a major food manufacturing company. I love food, but I can no longer eat anything that crosses my path. About 24 months ago I begin a serious struggle to get my obesity under control and reduce my chances of developing Type II diabetes. Since September of '09 I have lost 50 pounds and I still have a long ways to go. I've started eating better and exercising more, including taking up running.