Thursday, January 29, 2009

Weiner dogs are TIGHT!

My mom gave me a tight as hell Under Armor running shirt as a gift last year. Since then it's been sitting in the drawer waiting to be adorned (it's like a second skin for chrissake). I keep telling myself I have to earn the right to wear that on race day. I'd feel like a douchebag wearing that shirt only to put in a lame time. I've worked hard and want to wear it for this Sunday's race, but I think instead I'm going to give myself another challenge. 26:00 or less on the 5k (give me a break, I've only recently gone hard core about racing) and I'll wear it on the next one.

BTW, weiner dogs are tight. That's what two kids told me and Kristen one day when we were walking our dogs.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Big Buildup

The HB Surf City Marathon is this weekend. I'm only doing the 5k and Kristen is doing the Half. It's sold out completely for each event. 10's of thousands of people packing the streets of Huntington Beach. Luckily this year the weather is going to be sunny and clear. Last year it just dumped rain on us and the wind was freezing!

These huge races always make me uptight. Just waiting for a race to start is one thing, but when you pack in that many people I have a hard time setting my initial pace because I spend most of the time dodging other people. I'm going to have to fight my way to the front this time I guess. I know it's only a 5k, but I really want to bring in a respectable time. I figure I'll reward myself with a few beers during the Super Bowl. Go 49ers! Oh, wait. Wrong year. Arizona Cardinals? WTF?! I miss the 80's and 90's.

Kristen, of course, is going to be installing new base cabinets in a friend's kitchen she's re-designing.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Mid-Century Modern Ankle Bitter

So there I am, charging up the trail as best I can. The sun is setting, I have a beautiful view of Palm Springs from on high, Kristen is what appears to be a quarter of a mile ahead of me and all of a sudden a RATTLESNAKE BITES ME! Okay, it wasn't really a rattlesnake. As I came over the rise of a hill, I felt a shooting pain at my ankle. Kristen was out of sight by the time I hit the ground so I dragged myself to a rock and waited. Eventually she came back and I hobbled back down the mountain. By the time we got to our condo all was back to normal. I didn't step on a stray loose rock or twist my ankle. It just decided to have a spasm to let me know that enough was enough. Kinda scary. I've had a little bicepital tendonitis before and a little tendonitis in my left elbow, but this stopped me in my tracks in a big way. I have three races in February and I was terrified I was down for the count. I was lucky...this time.

So as an active day of rest on the following day, Kristen and I did an architectural tour of the mid-century modern homes in Palm Springs on our mountain bikes. So, all we have to do is win the lottery and we can scoop up a good handful of historic homes for sale and we'll have it made in the shade.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Somethin's a brewin'

Mr. Beer home brewing kit. This is what my wife's dad gave me as a gift a couple of years ago. If you have any interest at all, even an inkling, you should get yourself one of these little kits just to see what's what. It's pretty simple and you're just making somebody else's recipe. There are a few variables that you have control over such as how long to let the beer ferment, how long you age it after you bottle it and how long you lager it (keep it in the fridge before consumption). I've since made a few batches and am hooked. Recently I upgraded to a much more elaborate 5 gallon system that will give me a lot more control over the brew. The next step after this would be the "all grain" brew which gives you complete control over the entire recipe. Anyway, I tasted my latest Mr. Beer brew (Pale Ale) and I think I didn't let it ferment long enough. The little yeasties didn't devour everything in the fermenter. The beer has a light green apple smell and taste now. My buddy Dan liked it, but that's what best friends are for. They tell you "good job" even when you screw the pooch. Oh well.

Walking a wine line

It's no secret. Everybody who's ever had a lick of liquor knows what the next day brings. It comes in varying shapes and sizes depending on the previous night's imbibing. Slight morning fog. Grogginess. Maybe a dull headache. Some aches and a curious "pop" or two in the old bones. Or maybe you had too much fun and it reaches a full blown, 3 alarm ass-kicker. The "it" I'm referring to is obviously a hang-over. Regardless of your grog of choice, you've had "it".

Obviously by the title you know what the grog of choice is here. Vino. My wife, Kristen, and I are big on the inky stuff. From inexpensive weekday labels to the better weekend brands all the way up to the expensive "my boss just invited me to his holiday party" bottles. Kristen and I even have a few wine club memberships here in California (down from a pre-economic meltdown 6 or 7 memberships). I also love the barley pops. Beer, to use the parlance of our times. I like all styles and I also dabble in my own home brewing. We're not alkies or anything. You can't run, lift weights and compete if you booze it up too much. So this is what I call "walking a wine line." The balance of power between quaffing our favorite liquid and running marathons. Okay, so I've never actually run a marathon. Neither has Kristen...yet.

In addition to countless 5 and 10k's, Kristen has run the Long Beach half marathon and is training for this year's Huntington Beach half marathon. She's a natural. Fast, great VO2 max and determined. She's also hell on wheels, whether it's a mountain bike or road bike. She might train for a marathon this year and has expressed interest in competing in triathlons. She's competed as the running leg of a team for a couple of triathlons, but I'm sure she will soon be an army of one.

I was more reluctant to get into the distance running game. In my younger days (I'm 35 now) I played soccer, baseball and ran track (100 meter dash, long and triple jump). I haven't done any of that in years, but I've always loved going to the gym to lift weights. I was raised on water and snow skis as well. My turn to hitting the pavement came about in a rather pathetic way.

I was never really into distance running, but my wife's enthusiasm finally got to me. She entered a cross-country 10k race in Palos Verdes in 2007. Being the supportive, dutiful husband, I dropped her off and went to a local greasy spoon and had breakfast. When I returned to pick her up I discovered that she'd won 2nd place overall in the woman's category. I stood around and watched as everyone there shook hands, smiled broadly and patted each other on the back. It was a great, communal vibe and I felt lame for not being a part of it. I also felt lazy and shameful for being full of a big, crappy breakfast. And that was that. From that moment on, I pushed myself forward, mile after mile, to get myself into running shape. Since then I've run a good handful of 5k's and will be running my first 10k in February at the Los Alamitos Annual Race on the Base. It's like a drug now. Kristen and I have 3 races in February and will be competing in a lot more throughout the year. I will post our current races and PR's soon. Hers are amazing, mine suck, but the point is to keep on keeping on and hopefully my future PR's won't suck so bad. Only time will tell.

So that's what this blog is about. Running the fine line between Wine and The Finish Line. How to manage that delicate balance between staying in shape to run and enjoying lifes little indulgences. We will also explore other aspects of our days in what is our ode to what Teddy Roosevelt called "The Strenuous Life." Camping, hiking, drinking, running, competing and just staying active.

P.S. - I can totally out drink Kristen. I don't know if that's a good thing or not, but it's something!